Once the youngest player in U.S. Open history, Tadd Fujikawa became one of the first male professional golfers to come out as gay when he made the announcement this week in a social media post.
Fujikawa wrote on Instagram that he deliberately timed his announcement with world suicide prevention day, noting that he “spent way too long pretending, hiding and hating who I was.”
“I’ve been back and forth for a while about opening up about my sexuality,” Fujikawa 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.”
Fujikawa burst onto the scene in 2006, when he qualified for the U.S. Open at age 15. The following January he became the second-youngest player ever to make a PGA Tour cut, ultimately finishing T-20 at the Sony Open in his native Hawaii.
He turned pro in the summer of 2007 at age 16, but Fujikawa struggled to find his footing on the professional stage. He has made 14 career PGA Tour starts, last making a cut at the 2012 Sony Open, and played last summer on the Mackenzie Tour in Canada.
Now 27, Fujikawa wrote that he has “struggled with my mental health for many years” but hopes that by coming out he can serve as an inspiration for others in the LGBTQ community.
“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,” he wrote. “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.”