I was out as a gay man at the time and all I had desired and dreamed of up until that moment was finding a boyfriend and be as happy and loving as all the relationships you tend to see other people in, but that wasn’t quite working for me. When the 2008 Olympics happened I realized just what it was that I had been missing and from there I wanted to do something for myself, something more. At that moment I decided I wanted to be an Olympic Athlete, I was ready to experience the emotion of joy and accomplishment that comes from realizing your dreams.
It was my first real test, to be able to go further, you have to face your fears and step outside your comfort zone. From my first day with the Squids I have gone on to be experience some great things, in the gay community and the overall swimming and athletic community. Having been involved and medaled (several times) at both the 2010 and 2014 Gay Games, becoming more involved in a non-profit to help support LGBT athletes such as myself and actively promoting to create awareness and end homophobia and transphobia that continues to exist in sport.
Having recently competed at the 2015 Eurogames in Stockholm I am at a moment of change, not just a small change but a big change that will be my next big step, almost as big as the first step I took as I continue to progress toward my Olympic goals. I had competed in Sweden not having trained nearly as hard as I had the season before and yet I found myself still winning medals and setting PRs. I knew I was capable of so much more and ready to compete at a higher level. In essence I feel like I am at the top of where I am now and am ready to start back on the bottom.
I do love being apart of LGBT sporting events, my participation at the Gay Games both times have been truly amazing, the memories and accomplishments, the people I’ve met and the things I’ve gotten to be apart of will always live with me. I still intend to participate but not quite on the serious level I always had, I am ready for something even bigger. Paris 2018 offers a lot of opportunity but I am always looking forward to the next challenge.
My ambitions and pursuits as an Olympic hopeful have never been about making a statement with my sexuality or even to let my sexuality define who I am as an athlete. The Olympics themselves aren’t political, although there are certainly a lot of politics that surround it and while many I am sure disagree with that last statement. I have never let my sexuality become a political statement against sport. It’s always been about being the best I can be and always finding the next step to my goal of competing at the Olympic Games. I am not shy to show my pride, from wearing rainbow colored goggles or a rainbow wristband. I have a rainbow flag on my parka and on occasion I still represent the LGBT swim team that gave me my start. I show my pride not to make a statement, but to help other LGBT individuals discover that you can be open and comfortable with yourself and not let your sexuality become a barrier in pursuit of your goals and dreams.
Becoming involved with swimming again has helped to truly define who I am as a person. I am comfortable and happy with myself not only as a gay man but as an athlete, as a professional and as a human being. By taking that one big step to my first practice I became involved in much more that I can imagine and realize that my purpose in this world is to have a positive impact, even for just a moment to inspire another to make a positive change in pursuit of their goals and dreams. For that I am ready for the next step on my journey.
- David Smith is an exercise professional, athlete, blogger and owner of Stonewall Fitness. He is a certified personal trainer and holds a Bachelor's degree in Exercise Science and Nutrition. He is an active athlete and Gay Games medalist training and competing in triathlon and swimming. He is passionate about bringing the LGBT community together through exercise and fitness. Help support David with his athletic endeavors! Visit www.gofundme.com/bttrflyr and Read more here...