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Olympic Swimmer Martha McCabe Comes Out

Retired Canadian Olympic swimmer Martha McCabe has come out as a lesbian in a recent interview. She stated that her hope is that with her coming out she can help provide the type of strong and proud LGBT+ role model she never had growing up. 

“Young people need to be able to see themselves in the people they look up to,” McCabe said. “We need minority voices from different races, sexualities, gender identities, etc. — people bold enough to speak out, to share and to be themselves publicly so that younger generations can see they are not alone, and that you can be successful despite your differences.”

McCabe talked about the struggles she faced to come to terms with her sexuality within the environment of competitive swimming, stating: “Sure, I probably knew a couple of lesbians outside of swimming. But I was barely paying attention to my life outside of swimming.”

In her interview, McCabe describes her early life that existed almost entirely within the world of competitive swimming. The one thing missing at that time was a role model.

“The people I looked up to were in swimming,” McCabe explained. “The people I was constantly surrounded by and giving my full attention to were in swimming. I think if there was an out lesbian within that circle, someone I could have potentially looked up to, it would have been normalized a little bit more.”

As ‘The Advocate’ reports, the only LGBTQ+ role model for McCabe at the time was gay Canadian swimmer Mark Tewksbury, who came out publicly in 1998. Although McCabe describes Tewksbury's public revelation as important for her at the time, she says she couldn't help but notice a lack of lesbians in competitive swimming to whom she could look for affirmation.

“I think because there haven't really been any superstars in the sport publicly come out as lesbian and advocate for women in the LGBTQ+ space, it makes it more challenging to realize these things about yourself,” she said.

“I want to be an example to young female swimmers and help ones who are struggling with this, so they can see it's normal,” McCabe explained.

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