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Finnish Olympic swimmer comes out ahead of Sochi games

Sunday, February 2, 2014

Finnish Olympic swimmer Ari-Pekka Liukkonen has come out as gay, saying he wants to talk publicly about his sexual orientation close to the Sochi Olympic games to help raise awareness of Russia’s controversial anti-gay “propaganda” law.

Ari-Pekka Liukkonen

Ari-Pekka Liukkonen

“Finally I can be myself,” says Liukkonen, in an interview with YLE, Finland’s national public broadcasting company.

“I wanted to start a broader discussion in connection with Sochi, because it’s sad that the legislation in Russia restricts the human rights of young people and others,” Liukkonen told YLE.

The Russian law, signed by President Vladimir Putin last June, prohibits the “promotion of non-traditional relationships” as either normal or equal to that of heterosexual relationships.

Liukkonen also said that the Finnish sporting world is in need of a more open attitude to sexuality, and that he hopes that “in the future … elite athletes and other people will not find homosexuality to be any kind of news.”

Liukkonen, 24, said he came out to his sister two years ago, and to his parents a month ago.

“My family has received the news positively, and everyone has supported me,” he said. “Actually they had already sensed that I am like this.”

Liukkonen becomes the first gay Finnish athlete to come out during his active career. He competed at the 2012 London Olympics and has won bronze at the European Championships. He is the Finnish record holder in the 50 meter freestyle.

More: YLE

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Filed under: LGBTQ Life, Olympics, [ Trending ]

60 more reader comments:

  1. join the club

    Posted on Sunday, February 2, 2014 at 5:32pm
  2. Much love! <3

    Posted on Sunday, February 2, 2014 at 5:33pm
  3. gross..there is nothing more disgusting than half naked gay Finnish Olympic swimmers… said no one ever.. ;)

    Posted on Sunday, February 2, 2014 at 5:35pm
  4. LMAO ;)

    Replied on Sunday, February 2, 2014 at 5:43pm
  5. WOW DRACOSOLI HOW MANY FINNISH GAY MEN DO YOU KNOW...AND THEY SAY GAY IS SICK, WOW

    Replied on Sunday, February 2, 2014 at 6:10pm
  6. Hey, I'm a woman, but I'll be damn if the swimming competitions aren't my fav. :)

    Replied on Sunday, February 2, 2014 at 6:17pm
  7. i want his number.

    Replied on Sunday, February 2, 2014 at 7:02pm
  8. Dracosoli..You only wish you were an Olympian going for the gold!!!

    Replied on Monday, February 3, 2014 at 2:19am
  9. DRACOSOLI RUSH! YOU ARE A ASSHOLE SIR! JUDGE YOURSELF BEFORE YOU MAKE A COMMENT ABOUT SOMEONE ELSE!!!

    Replied on Monday, February 3, 2014 at 4:05am
  10. yeah very good for him lot of respect for him

    Posted on Sunday, February 2, 2014 at 5:36pm
  11. Good, for him!!

    Posted on Sunday, February 2, 2014 at 5:37pm
  12. Congrats to U Liukkonen for standing up and saying UR into guys!! Being open about UR sexuality is #amazing!!! U deserve a lot of #RESPECT!!!!! :)

    Posted on Sunday, February 2, 2014 at 5:37pm
  13. IM VERY PROUD OF HIM AND CANNOT BELIEVE THE ARENA IS GOING TO BE IN AND THEY DONT EVEN HAVE CELIBATE BEHAVIOR PUBLICITY IN THAT COUNTRY

    Posted on Sunday, February 2, 2014 at 5:37pm
  14. May you take home the GOLD!!!!!!

    Posted on Sunday, February 2, 2014 at 5:38pm
  15. Sadly he needs to be careful because not every person or country are open minded.

    Posted on Sunday, February 2, 2014 at 5:38pm
  16. Congrats!

    Posted on Sunday, February 2, 2014 at 5:38pm
  17. congrats

    Posted on Sunday, February 2, 2014 at 5:40pm
  18. Hopefully more athlets will come out from closset in the near Days.

    Posted on Sunday, February 2, 2014 at 5:42pm
  19. We are proud :)

    Posted on Sunday, February 2, 2014 at 5:42pm
  20. Go Ari-Pekka!

    Posted on Sunday, February 2, 2014 at 5:48pm
  21. :-D

    Posted on Sunday, February 2, 2014 at 5:51pm
  22. I wrote a book about Sochi and two skaters…. And yeah, this is a shameless plug of sorts. BUT, in the book, I touch on the gay thing a little bit and Russia’s anti-propaganda laws. My hope is someone while in Sochi will speak up. SHOUT OUT, say and do something their advisors have told them not to do. Show the young (and not so young too) that being gay is ok. Make a statement in front of the world to support the human beings being abused. Then fight the government–protest– for whatever good that will do. But make a statement to lift up the people whio need it more importantly. We’ll see. http://www.amazon.com/Quadruple-Flip-David-Connor/dp/1627980938/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1391303404&sr=8-1&keywords=quadruple+flip

    Posted on Sunday, February 2, 2014 at 5:55pm
  23. Onnea, Ari Pekka! :)

    Posted on Sunday, February 2, 2014 at 5:58pm
  24. More & more gay athletes coming out! Good news. They are Legion. The world needs to know.

    Posted on Sunday, February 2, 2014 at 5:59pm
  25. <3

    Posted on Sunday, February 2, 2014 at 6:09pm
  26. Kudos!!

    Posted on Sunday, February 2, 2014 at 6:15pm
  27. Welcome to the party!

    Posted on Sunday, February 2, 2014 at 6:16pm
  28. Rohkeaa Ari-Pekka, hienosti tehty <3 Brave man!

    Posted on Sunday, February 2, 2014 at 6:17pm
  29. some idiots reported this as ABUSE … we will fix it …

    Posted on Sunday, February 2, 2014 at 6:21pm
  30. Posted on Sunday, February 2, 2014 at 6:30pm
  31. :)

    Posted on Sunday, February 2, 2014 at 6:49pm
  32. Congrats for doing this. Shows Dumbass Putin that we are everywhere in the world and really how ridiculous his cruel and unjust law is.

    Posted on Sunday, February 2, 2014 at 6:57pm
  33. I have a really bad feeling about the Olympic games in Sochi. I’m worried about every gay athlete who’s going. I don’t know if I can bring myself to watch. Putin is pure evil in action.

    Posted on Sunday, February 2, 2014 at 7:04pm
  34. We are all very proud of you.

    Posted on Sunday, February 2, 2014 at 7:06pm
  35. congrats on your courage to be you.

    Posted on Sunday, February 2, 2014 at 7:23pm
  36. Thank you for being so brave and strong for yourself. Others will follow x

    Posted on Sunday, February 2, 2014 at 7:38pm
  37. Hims cute

    Posted on Sunday, February 2, 2014 at 7:46pm
  38. Hopefully the Russians won’t throw him in jail. Boycott Russia and the Olympics!

    Posted on Sunday, February 2, 2014 at 7:51pm
  39. Congratulations!

    Posted on Sunday, February 2, 2014 at 7:57pm
  40. he is sexy

    Posted on Sunday, February 2, 2014 at 8:25pm
  41. Congratulations! We need more athletes like him to stand up and be counted.

    Posted on Sunday, February 2, 2014 at 8:26pm
  42. I can admire his position but don’t get yourself arrested to prove something to someone who won’t change his mind. You can do much more from outside of prison

    Posted on Sunday, February 2, 2014 at 8:28pm
  43. Um…I can haz?

    Posted on Sunday, February 2, 2014 at 8:37pm
  44. Finland is sending a swimmer to the winter olympicsÉ

    Posted on Sunday, February 2, 2014 at 8:58pm
  45. Congratulations! Welcome aboard!

    Posted on Sunday, February 2, 2014 at 9:10pm
  46. May many more come out! Congratulations for putting another face to this important issue.

    Posted on Sunday, February 2, 2014 at 9:20pm
  47. Kiitos Ari Pekka!

    Posted on Sunday, February 2, 2014 at 9:28pm
  48. Congratulations!!!

    Posted on Sunday, February 2, 2014 at 9:54pm
  49. What is Russia going to do with so many gay people?

    Posted on Sunday, February 2, 2014 at 9:56pm
  50. Good for you dude!!

    Posted on Sunday, February 2, 2014 at 10:05pm
  51. I went out with this guy once.
    That was a wonderful fantasy.

    Posted on Sunday, February 2, 2014 at 10:22pm
  52. courage is what it takes, good for you Ari-Pekka Liukkonen. BRAVO

    Posted on Sunday, February 2, 2014 at 10:24pm
  53. Welcome!

    Posted on Sunday, February 2, 2014 at 10:27pm
  54. We need more athletes, country music artists to have the courage to come out. Welcome to the family, young man!

    Posted on Sunday, February 2, 2014 at 10:28pm
  55. Handsome and a real Hero of FINLAND..swim 2 win in Soshi! Prove to the Russian SCUM that GLBT is SUPERIOR to the USSR Bigots.

    Posted on Sunday, February 2, 2014 at 11:06pm
  56. Good job !!

    Posted on Sunday, February 2, 2014 at 11:12pm
  57. I hope he wins everything he’s entered in just like Jesse Owens in 1936.

    Posted on Monday, February 3, 2014 at 12:04am
  58. Good for him ..

    Posted on Monday, February 3, 2014 at 1:43am
  59. wow he’s omg sexy

    Posted on Monday, February 3, 2014 at 2:39am
  60. You see? We ARE cuter.

    Posted on Monday, February 3, 2014 at 3:20am