Jérémy Stravius, 32, has taken the plunge.
Like five other top athletes (Céline Dumerc, Amandine Buchard, Astrid Guyart, Kevin Aymoz and Jérémy Clamy-Edroux), the 2011 world champion in the 100m backstroke revealed his homosexuality in
We have to talk ”, a documentary broadcast on Canal + and directed by Lyès Houhou and Arnaud Bonnin.
The Amiens, who is swimming quietly towards the post-career, participated this week in the French Championships.
This Sunday afternoon, he confided in the edge of the basin ...
Why did you accept this project?
It was different from the requests I had before.
I was asked the first time ten years ago!
I always refused because I didn't want to be the flag bearer.
I didn't feel the need to come out at all.
Besides, I find the word violent.
But I wasn't hiding anything, it was natural.
I've been living with this status for a long time.
If I am asked, I say it without lying, otherwise I say nothing.
We did not do this doc for us but more for the others.
I really wanted to send a message to the younger ones…
Being at six reassuring?
Yes, we tell ourselves that we are not alone.
Even if we didn't know who the others were before the broadcast, we are a team.
Suddenly, it's one less weight.
We're talking about the same thing, each with different stories.
For the most part there was a good acceptance, but I am thinking of Amandine Buchard who did not have the same feedback.
It shows that we do well to talk about it and even more so in sport.
Were you worried about the repercussions of the documentary?
I was a little apprehensive because there can be negative feedback.
I'm living very well right now, I have no problem with that, so… I've only received positive vibes so far.
Today there is a way to say it without saying it.
I've been with my boyfriend for eight years, I'm going to post things on social media naturally.
It's just normal.
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Is it easier because your career is behind you?
If I had been introduced to this concept five years ago, I would have said yes.
It's also good to say things when everything is going well.
It is often said that swimming is a macho sport, that you can be looked at askance.
Me, I never had this feeling.
Everyone knew ...
There is always gossip at the edge of the pools.
By dint of hearing things, I told myself that I did not need to say it openly since everyone was aware!
There is a moment that marked me.
I'm in an elevator with Amaury Leveaux and he asks me what my boyfriend's name is.
He had the courage to tell me about it without going through someone else.
He is one of the few to have done so.
You can't imagine the relief… I didn't see the point in saying it except to create barriers when it had no impact on my performance.
You never know how others may react.
Did you have any reservations because of your membership in the 4 x 100 m NL relay, where you have to show your biceps?
I felt like them.
Homo or straight, we can have the same size, be part of a relay.
It breaks the macho codes well to say that I was part of it.
There are a lot of clichés and this image of saying that I am Olympic champion in the 4 x 100 m
(Editor's note: in 2012)
, that can speak.
I think of young people who must tell themselves that it is possible, that there is no criterion of sexuality to perform.
I tell myself that I can open doors to some who lock themselves up.
I have already received lots of messages from people who dare not speak to family and friends.
It puts them on the brakes and that's a shame.
They may be missing out on their passion, a career.
It pains me.
Is this documentary part of your transmission duty?
It's a good time because I've finished my career, I can take time to listen and talk about it.
I don't want those at the start of their careers to be embarrassed.
If I can be a witness, help them take the plunge, I am ready to take on this role.
I speak for the first time because
e want to help.
Did you suffer from your sexual orientation in your youth?
I was looking for myself and when I had my first relationship I was proud to be free and to have found someone and I wanted to say it.
Some did know and for those I didn't want to tell it was kind of funny, I made my boyfriend look like a cousin.
I am one of the lucky ones who had loved ones and a family who took it well.
I think it's great.