Tadd Fujikawa has become the first male pro golfer to come out publicly as gay.
The 27-year-old did so in a lengthy Instagram post on Tuesday, saying his timing was tied to World Suicide Prevention Day.
“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,” Fujikawa wrote. “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.”
It’s the second time Fujikawa is making a bit of golf history — he also was the youngest golfer to ever qualify for the US Open, when he was a 15-year-old at the 2006 tournament at Winged Foot in Westchester.
“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.”
Fujikawa is a native of Hawaii and chose to forgo college golf to become a very young professional. At the 2007 Sony Open in his native state, Fujikawa qualified as a 16-year-old and then became the youngest player to make a cut on the PGA Tour in 50 years.
He made 14 career starts on tour, with his best finish being a tie for 19th at the 2012 Sony Open. He batted around the mini-tours for the next decade, and resurfaced to the general public when he won the Hawaii State Open this past December. That is also when he admitted his years of battling depression.
“I’ve been back and forth for a while about opening up about my sexuality,” he wrote.
“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.”
Members of the LPGA Tour have come out as gay in the past, but Fujikawa is the first male pro golfer.
He indicated his hope is that it will open the door for others.
“I can’t wait for the day we all can live without feeling like we’re different and excluded,” Fujikawa wrote. “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.”