Three-Time Olympic Gymnastics Medalist Danell Leyva Comes Out

Two-time Olympic gymnast Danell Leyva celebrated National Coming Out Month by coming out of the closet in hopes of making it easier for others struggling with their sexual orientation.

The 28-year-old three-time Olympic gymnastics medalist says that, for him, stereotypes surrounding his sport may have been one of the biggest obstacles to his coming out as a member of the LGBTQ community.

Leyva confessed that coming out was made even more difficult by his stubbornness and determination – traits that helped lift him to the Olympic podium three times.

“[The stereotypes were] such a big factor in it, just not giving those people the satisfaction of being right because it doesn’t come from a good place,” Leyva told Olympic Channel this week. “It wasn’t somebody that was trying to help us understand [our sexuality]. It was just somebody pointing at us and that doesn’t feel good.”

On October 11 – National Coming Out Day in the United States – Leyva came out in a Twitter thread.

He says he’s been surprised and amazed by the reaction he’s received.

“I didn’t think it was gonna blow up the way it did,” said Leyva, who mentioned he’d heard from Olympic champions Aly Raisman, Simone Biles and Laurie Hernandez.

Leyva said the responses were not only positive, they were also comforting.

“In the post, I said that I’m still trying to figure out between whether I’m a bi or pan. It was nice to have people be like, ‘You don’t have to label it. You don’t have to just be ‘a thing’. It’s an ever-changing fluid thing, so you don’t have to worry about that,’” the 2011 World parallel bars champion explained. “That was nice because that was certainly reassuring.”

Leyva says he thought about coming out back in June for Pride Month, but reconsidered as news in the United States was focused on ‘Black Lives Matter’ protests in the wake of death of George Floyd in police custody.

“I was like, ‘No, I’m not really that important,’” said Leyva. “And so I decided to just kind of forget about it, and I did forget about it.”

But a friend, his podcast producer, alerted him to October’s Coming Out Day, and suggested that Leyva, no stranger to allyship for the LGBTQ and other communities, post a message of support.

“I sent her the thread before I actually sent it out – her and two other of my really close friends. Almost immediately, they called me. One of them was like damn near in tears,” Leyva recalled. “And she’s like, ‘What? Are you kidding? This is amazing. I’m so proud of you. Are you ready for this?’”

“I always knew. It was always just very rejected, internally rejected because of the way that we’re all raised,” Leyva wrote in his coming out message. “And especially coming from Hispanic family, it’s very much rejected.

“As I was growing up, I would always somewhat reject [my sexuality]. But then, the more I accepted myself… I started realising more and more things,” continued Leyva. “I started realizing how normal it is.”

The winner of all-around bronze at London 2012 and parallel bars and horizontal bar silver at Rio 2016 added: “I hope to one day live in a world where your sexuality is as irrelevant as whether or not you’re right or left handed. You know, it’s such a non-issue. It literally means nothing that if you’re just like, ‘Oh, you’re left handed? That’s cool. Oh, you’re bi? That’s cool.'”