Published 2:43 PM EDT Sep 12, 2018
Tadd Fujikawa, who at 15 became the youngest to qualify for the U.S. Open in 2006, has come out as gay.
Outsports.com said Fujikawa is one of the first pro golfers to come out publicly, and that he is the first U.S. Open player to do so.
Fujikawa, now 27, came out publicly Tuesday on social media, citing world suicide prevention day behind his timing. He started the post with, "So ... I'm gay."
"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," he wrote on Instagram. "Some have even taken their lives because of it. 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.
Fujikawa said that the influence of openly gay people in the public eye helped him find personal acceptance, and he hopes his announcement can do the same for others.
"I thought that I didn’t need to come out because it doesn’t matter if anyone knows," Fujikawa said. “But I remember how much other’s stories have helped me in my darkest times to have hope. I spent way too long pretending, hiding, and hating who I was. 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.”
Since coming out, Fujikawa told Outsports the golfing community embraced him with open arms, noting that the "love and support have been overwhelming."
In 2007, Fujikawa became the youngest player in nearly 50 years to make the PGA Tour cut. Fujikawa, who won the Hawaii State Open in 2017, has been playing in mini-tours and qualifiers around the country.