‘It has been a dream of mine for many years to compete at an international meet at the level such as this one’
An out gay swimmer has been chosen to represent Estonia at a major international competition.
American-Estonian Ayrton Kasemets studies at – and swims for – Oakland University in Rochester, Missouri.
And now the Chicago native is the first out college athlete to represent Estonia at the 2017 World University Games.
This year, the biennial competition will be held Taipei from 19 to 30 August. It is expected to draw in athletes from 150 countries to compete in 22 sports.
‘I have always wanted to compete on an international level and these games are a great way to represent my country and university,’ Kasemets told chicago.gopride.com.
‘I am very proud, honored to be selected. It has been a dream of mine for many years to compete at an international meet at the level such as this one.’
Kasemet publicly came out as gay in 2015 in an article for OutSports, although he had been out to his team since he joined.
He said he never really came out in high school, mainly because he ‘was there to learn and swim’.
But when Kasemet started college, he felt he need to address the topic to stop any talk and gossip.
‘There was still very much of that when most of the girl’s team decided to be my best friends from the moment I stepped on campus. Some how they knew. Ha. I love the girls for it,’ he said.
‘The very first weekend on campus at a team event, the two senior captains pulled me aside. They were very hesitant, dancing around the issue.
‘“If you’ve got a question, guys,” I said, “go ahead and ask it.”
‘They very politely asked if I was gay, and I told them the truth. They had absolutely no problem with it. It was very refreshing.
‘The thing they were worried about was how comfortable I was and they wanted to make sure that I was comfortable addressing the team.’