Professional golfer Tadd Fujikawa just made history for the second time.
The 27-year-old Hawaii native, who became the then-youngest golfer ever to qualify for the U.S. Open in 2006, opened up about his sexuality in an emotional Instagram post earlier this week. Fujikawa identified himself as gay and noted that he was writing on World Suicide Prevention Day (Sept. 10).
“I spent way too long pretending, hiding, and hating who I was,” he wrote. “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.”
The announcement reportedly makes Fujikawa, who is Japanese-American, the first male professional golfer to publicly identify as LGBTQ.
Two days after his Instagram post, he told Outsports that he first knew he was gay in his teens but that he’d “tried to convince myself to be straight for a long time.” The Instagram post, he said, marked the first time he’d come out to anyone in the professional golf sphere and so far, the “love and support have been overwhelming.”
“I’m so glad that I came out,” he said. “I can finally be the best version of me.”
Fujikawa was just 15 years old when he qualified for the U.S. Open in 2006 as an amateur. At the time, that made him the youngest player to ever qualify; he’s now behind Andy Zhang, who was 14 when he qualified in 2012. Fujikawa went professional in 2007.
Last December, he won the Hawaii State Open ― his first tournament title in seven years.
In recent months, Fujikawa has become increasingly vocal about his struggles with anxiety and depression in interviews and on social media.
“What I have gone through may not seem as ‘bad’ or detrimental as some other people,” he wrote on Instagram in October 2017. “But regardless we all have our issues and problems, just in different ways. It’s how we deal with those issues and learn how to overcome them that makes us stronger and beautiful in the end.”