• Cyclocross racer Justin Laevens in action (SportNU.be)Source: SportNU.be
Justin Laevens, a 19-year-old cyclocross rider, has come out as gay in a significant moment for the sport that doesn't have many publicly homosexual members.
SBS Cycling Central

8 Jan - 7:40 AM 

The Belgian cyclocross professional rides for Proximus-AlphaMotorhomes-Doltcini and is the first cyclist from his country to publicly announce his sexuality.

"I had been thinking about it for two years. It was a big step," Laevens said in an interview with SportNU.be. "My parents were very positive about it. I was especially afraid of the reactions of bigger riders or teams, that they would look at me differently, but I don't think that's the case."

On his Instagram story, Laevens referenced a social media campaign by Belgian rower Simon Haerinck, #samesportdifferentsexuality that Haerinck hoped will "call out homophobia in sports and encourage tolerance and acceptance."

Laevens later thanked fans and well-wishers for their support, saying "Thank you for all your beautiful and positive messages! I hope to be an example to others. stay yourself, enjoy your life & be happy yourself!"

Despite the progress of gay rights in recent decades across the world, sport - and in particular cycling - has remained without many feeling comfortable to openly identify as homosexual.

"Being out in the sports world is difficult," Laevens said. "I hope I can set an example for other athletes, for riders or for cyclo-crossers who may still be hidden in their shell."

Laevens will next compete at the Belgian cyclocross national championships where he will race in the elite ranks.