Tadd Fujikawa, the youngest player to ever compete in the US Open, has become the first male professional golfer to publicly come out as gay.
Taking to Instagram, the 27-year-old said he was inspired to tell his story on World Suicide Prevention Day.
“I don’t expect everyone to understand or accept me,” Fujikawa wrote. “But please be gracious enough to not push your beliefs on me or anyone in the LGBTQ community. My hope is this post will inspire each and every one of you to be more empathetic and loving towards one another.
“I’ve been back and forth for a while about opening up about my sexuality. I thought that I didn’t need to come out because it doesn’t matter if anyone knows. But I remember how much other’s stories have helped me in my darkest times to have hope. I spent way too long pretending, hiding, and hating who I was. I was always afraid of what others would think/say. I’ve struggled with my mental health for many years because of that and it put me in a really bad place. Now I’m standing up for myself and the rest of the LGBTQ community in hopes of being an inspiration and making a difference in someone’s life. Although it’s a lot more accepted in our society today, we still see children, teens, and adults being ridiculed and discriminated against for being the way we are. Some have even taken their lives because of it. As long as those things are still happening, I will continue to do my best to bring more awareness to this issue and to fight for equality. Whether the LGBTQ is what you support or not, we must liberate and encourage each other to be our best selves, whatever that may be. It’s the only way we can make this world a better place for future generations.”
Fujikawa, a native of Hawaii, came to fame in 2006 when he qualified for the US Open at Winged Foot, reaching America’s national championship at 15 years old. The next year he made the cut at the Sony Open in Hawaii, becoming the youngest player in 50 years to make the weekend at a US PGA Tour event.
Fujikawa chose to forego college golf and turned pro at 16. He has made 14 career starts on tour, with a T-19 at the 2012 Sony Open his best finish. He bounced around the mini-tours for a decade, but last December won the Hawaii State Open after announcing he was battling issues of depression and anxiety.
Fujikawa asserted that he doesn’t want this announcement to focus on him, and hope it helps spread love and acceptance to those in similar situations.
“I can’t wait for the day we all can live without feeling like we’re different and excluded,” Fujikawa said. “A time where we don’t have to come out, we can love the way we want to love and not be ashamed. We are all human and equal after all. So I dare you… spread love. Let’s do our part to make this world a better place.”