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Queerty: Olympic hopeful Maarten Hurkmans, who came out to smash stereotypes


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This profile is part seven of Queerty’s 2020 Out For Good series, recognizing public figures who’ve had the courage to come out and make a difference in the past year, in celebration of National Coming Out Day on October 11.

Name: Maarten Hurkmans, 22

Bio: Dutch-born Hurkmans grew up in the Netherlands where he showed an early interest in athletics. By the time he reached college, Hurkmans had become a champion rower, competing on behalf of the University of California, where he enrolled as a student-athlete. When he graduated in 2019, Hurkmans was named 2019 Pac-12 Men’s Rowing Scholar-Athlete of the Year. Earlier this year, Hurkmans returned to The Netherlands where he joined up with his country’s rowing team. Under his direction, the team qualified for the Tokyo Olympics, postponed until after the COVID-19 pandemic ends.

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Are you your unapologetic self? ? ? Everyone that knows me will say that I’m very unapologetically me. I have a clear presence, you can always read my mood straight of my face, and I can be the absolute worst morning person. I am also bisexual, something that I consider to be an important part of who I am.? ? For many people, sexuality is not something to consider much. However, for many LGBTQ+ people, a lot of time and anxiety can go into discovering, accepting and reconciling themselves with their sexuality. I am very lucky to have been brought up by amazing parents in an open and accepting environment, and luckily, I have never experienced my sexuality as much of a burden. Not everyone shares my experience though. ? ? It can be hard to come out, especially in sports. Not many elite athletes identify as LGBTQ+ and there are few role models to look up to and show that it doesn’t matter and it’s nothing to be ashamed of. I am 2.01m, 110kgs, proud of who I am, and I row at the elite level. To many, I do not fit the stereotype, but I do want to be an example to anyone that feels like they can’t be their true self.? ? Identifying as part of the LGBTQ+ community does not make you less masculine, or able to compete and win. In the end, we all line up at the same starting line with the same anticipation as we endure those final minutes before the start. Equally tense and ready for the green light. ? ? #pride

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Coming Out: Hurkmans made headlines in June 2020 after he wrote an emotional mini-essay posted to Instagram. In it, he revealed his own bisexuality, and that he’d long been out to family and friends. “Everyone that knows me will say that I’m very unapologetically me,” Hurkmans wrote. “I have a clear presence, you can always read my mood straight of my face, and I can be the absolute worst morning person.”

“I am also bisexual,” he went on, “something that I consider to be an important part of who I am. For many people, sexuality is not something to consider much. However, for many LGBTQ+ people, a lot of time and anxiety can go into discovering, accepting and reconciling themselves with their sexuality. I am very lucky to have been brought up by amazing parents in an open and accepting environment, and luckily, I have never experienced my sexuality as much of a burden. Not everyone shares my experience though.”

Finding My Flock: For Hurkmans, coming out had less to do with himself than it did helping to inspire and guide other LGBTQ people to come out, even in unfriendly environments.

“It can be hard to come out, especially in sports,” Hurkmans wrote in his essay. “Not many elite athletes identify as LGBTQ+ and there are few role models to look up to and show that it doesn’t matter and it’s nothing to be ashamed of. I I am 2.01m (6-feet-7), 110kgs (242 pounds), proud of who I am, and I row at the elite level. To many, I do not fit the stereotype, but I do want to be an example to anyone that feels like they can’t be their true self.”

To Hurkmans, coming out meant showing the world that queer people exist everywhere, in all areas of interest. For him, increasing that level of visibility would help others feel included, and offer courage to others to represent the community with an authentic life.

“Identifying as part of the LGBTQ+ community does not make you less masculine, or able to compete and win,” Hurkmans concluded. “In the end, we all line up at the same starting line with the same anticipation as we endure those final minutes before the start. Equally tense and ready for the green light.”

Maarten Hurkmans didn’t come out to find his flock. He came out so others could find it, offering himself as a shining example, and a beacon for others to follow. That, folks, is coming out for good.

Queerty