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Swiss wrestler Curdin Orlik comes out as gay, first out male athlete in nation

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Curdin Orlik is a champion in Schwingen, also known as Swiss wrestling. It’s the national sport of Switzerland and incredibly popular throughout the country, so even if it’s not something particularly well known elsewhere, its athletes are very important to the Swiss. And Orlik’s coming out is a pretty big deal.

“For far too long I have pushed out who I really am,” he said in his coming out interview with The Magazine. “I always knew that I was gay, for sure since I was 12. But I thought: this is wrong, it cannot be.

Curdin Orlik

“I heard things on the school building square [like] ‘you gay pig,’ ‘you faggot.’ Or in soccer, ‘such a gay pass!’ Even when [wrestling]. Sure nobody really meant that, but if you’re like that yourself, you think, ‘Shit, that’s not a good thing.’

Swing wrestling is a sport peculiar to Switzerland and very popular, with its champions becoming household names. It’s a derivative of folk wrestling where the wrestlers wear special clothes that allow for holds and throws and the action takes place in a circle covered in sawdust.

Despite the uniqueness of the sport, Orlik’s coming out will resonate with any LGBTQ athlete, especially gay men — the realization at a young age that you are different, the fear and uncertainty of coming out and the emotional toll the closet takes.

Curdin Orlik

Orlik’s first experiences of meeting other men on apps were terrible. “I felt abused,” he said. “I thought if being gay meant you were so miserable, it wasn’t for me. Getting to know good gays is doubly difficult if you keep your gayness hidden. You are defenseless because fear always resonates that you are exposed. And who should I have talked about bad experiences with? I was alone. It may sound stupid, but I figured I needed a girlfriend again.”

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