Champion collegiate divers Tanner Wilfong, of the University of Miami, and Jamie Bissett, a Purdue graduate, have come out as gay together and announced they are a couple.
The Roanoke Times reports that Wilfong is believed to be the only active male athlete in the Atlantic Coast Conference to talk publicly about being gay. He is also one of seven gay male athletes to announce his sexuality publicly who is currently competing in a Power-5 conference.
“I think every day is a better day,” Wilfong says. “Our relationship has changed so much since we first met, because [Jamie] wasn’t even ‘out.’ It’s a complete progression until the day you depart, move on or die.”
The Roanoke Times adds:
Bissett told friends and family he’s gay a few months after he started dating Wilfong. Bissett is also now the two-time reigning Canadian national champion on 3-meter springboard. He’s completed his NCAA eligibility and is training to represent Canada at the 2016 Olympics.
“He was ‘out’ when we met, and obviously, that was scary for me,” Bissett says. “I’m thankful to have met him. I’ve learned a lot about myself through having met him and definitely credit that whole experience to where I am now.”
Wilfong revealed that he struggled with coming to terms with his sexuality, telling himself each day, “You’re not gay. You’re not gay. You’re not gay. You’re not gay.”
“I thought people would only like me if I was a good diver…You start getting that stress mixed with your sexuality, and you worry what people think about you all the time,” he said. “I tried to literally change who I was.”
Wilfong says he is happy now and is “OK with gay being part of my reputation. I like it,” Wilfong says. “In high school, it would have been the uncool thing for me in my mind. Now, it’s the cool thing. It’s just because the cool thing is me being myself and me not caring for a single second what anyone else thinks about me.”
Wilfong and Bissett have both qualified for the 2016 U.S. Olympic Trials.