Editor's note: This story was originally published on PGA.com on June 28, 2019
Tadd Fujikawa is a professional golfer on the PGA Tour who — at the age of 15 — became the youngest player to ever qualify for the U.S. Open, in 2006. He also made another piece of history 11 years later, when he became the first male professional golfer to publicly announce that he was gay. We spoke to Tadd to learn more about his decision and how it has positively impacted his life.
What did you love about golf when you first started playing? What was it like being the youngest player to qualify for the U.S. Open?
I enjoyed the challenge of golf. Being the youngest to qualify for the U.S. Open was a crazy experience. Having the opportunity to compete on that big of a stage at such a young age was really special.
How significant was it to announce yourself as gay on a day that coincided with World Suicide Prevention Day?
Honestly, it was just a coincidence that my post and World Suicide Prevention Day were on the same day. But I think it was so fitting. To be able to bring awareness to mental health, as well as the LGBTQ+ community really meant a lot to me.
What does it mean to you to be the first openly gay male professional golfer?
I didn't come out because I knew I'd be the first openly gay male pro golfer. But by doing so, I really hope that it can open some doors for other golfers and athletes to have the courage to be who they are. I’m grateful that I can be an advocate for something that’s so important to me.
What message would you like to send to LGBTQ+ golfers and fans who want to know if they can be their full selves and a part of the sport they love?
You can and should be exactly who you are.
What does “Pride” mean to you?
Pride means love. Pride is the ability to be who we are and come together as a community to love and support each other.
What is your hope for the future of LGBTQ+ athletes in golf?
I just hope that all LGBTQ+ athletes can feel like we are a part of a safe place; where we can play the sport we love; and can still be authentically ourselves.
You can follow Tadd Fujikawa on Twitter @Tadd_Fujikawa & on Instagram @taddy808