Olympic Swimming Champ Dan Jervis Comes Out, Looks Forward to Being Role Model

by Kilian Melloy

EDGE Staff Reporter

Sunday July 10, 2022
Originally published on June 29, 2022

Olympic swimming champion Dan Jervis
Olympic swimming champion Dan Jervis  (Source:Dan Jervis/Instagram)

Welsh swimming champ Dan Jervis has come out as gay, telling the BBC's LGBT Sport Podcast, "For so long, I hated who I was" — but now he's found happiness in himself. "I look in the mirror," the 26-year-old silver- and bronze-medalist Olympian said, "and I like who I am."

The road to self-acceptance was a long one for the world-class athlete, who is about to compete for the third time in the Commonwealth Games. The 42 relayed how Jervis had "always known" he was gay, and had "something in the back of my mind, bugging me" for years.

"I thought I was bisexual and had girlfriends that I loved," the athlete went on to add, "but it came to about three years ago where I knew I had to deal with this."

"It wasn't affecting my swimming," the Olympian continued, but it was taking a toll on "me as a human being. It sounds quite drastic, but I wasn't enjoying my life. Yeah, I was smiling, but there was something missing to make me properly happy."

Jervis took note of the cost of LGBTQ+ people being shoved into the closet by the assumptions and expectations of others, telling the BBC podcast, "you see it all the time, people who are dying over this. They hate themselves so much that they're ending their lives."

In his case, the champion swimmer said, "It took me 24 years to be who I am," during which time he was "just trying to fit in — until I thought: 'Just be you.'"

That's when he first told a good friend the truth. "I said to her: 'I think I'm gay,'" Jervis recounted. "I couldn't even say: 'I'm gay.' I was basically punching the words out."

Jervis shared that, at that point in his life, "I'd never said the words out loud to myself."

But he went on to say that being gay didn't mean he was any different than he'd ever been. "I'm still the Dan you've always known," Jervis said. "You just know something else about me now."

Two years later, with the support of everyone he told in private, Jervis was ready to come out in public. He was also inspired to come out by pro soccer player Jake Daniels leaving the closet behind recently at the age of 17. Daniels, in turn, drew inspiration from Australian soccer star Josh Cavallo coming out last October, becoming the world's only active soccer player to be out until Daniels joined him.

Jervis told the BBC that he's looking forward to being a role model that other young LGBTQ+ people can look to and draw courage from. More than that, however, as a gay Christian, he's looking to serve as an example for LGBTQ+ people of faith.

"I love God," Jervis declared, "and out of all the things in my life my faith is what I'm most proud of."

Jervis added, "And there is this thing where people say you can't be Christian and gay together, and I was sitting there knowing you can be because I am!"

Kilian Melloy serves as EDGE Media Network's Associate Arts Editor and Staff Contributor. His professional memberships include the National Lesbian & Gay Journalists Association, the Boston Online Film Critics Association, The Gay and Lesbian Entertainment Critics Association, and the Boston Theater Critics Association's Elliot Norton Awards Committee.