Chilean basketball player Daniel Arcos has come out as a proud member of the LGBTQ+ community.

In an emotional statement posted to Instagram, the 26-year-old said he’s finally able to “love and value” himself.

According to a translation from OutSports, Arcos wrote: “I waited for this day for a long time, a personal challenge with new [rainbow] colors on my shirt, colors that before I looked with shame and that today I decide to wear with pride.

“I remember walking one afternoon after having had an experience with another man. I had feelings of guilt, I felt bad, lonely, as if I had done something really bad. I was afraid to share it with someone and be judged, as I was already doing with myself.”

Arcos revealed that he continued to live his “normal life” by focusing on sports and his studies, finally ‘earning’ his place in professional basketball. However, he felt like he could not show his authentic self to the world.

“I avoided uncomfortable questions, I lied and silenced myself when I thought that something was not fair, thus seeking to fit in, feel part of, be one of my teammates, since many times homosexuality was manifested as mockery and insult. This discomfort was the reason that I thought of abandoning this beautiful sport,” he explained.

After many sleepless nights, Arcos came to the realisation that he needed to “love and value” himself, which led to him telling his close friends and family about his sexuality, “always with the fear of being judged.”

“My sister, mother, father and friends all has the same response: “You just have to be happy, I am here for you, the rest does not matter.” These were words that help me forgive everything I have lived in the past and today give me the courage to write this.”

Although he was worried that his coming out statement would lead to “ridicule, discomfort and even hate,” Arcos said he feels “privileged” and “very strong” to have the love and support of his friends and family.

“I want to be part of the change and build a society in which we treat each other with respect and can be happy,” he continued.

“I am willing to face what comes despite the uncertainty that exists with what may happen after publishing this, but I think we are in time to continue moving forward and eliminate closets that should not exist.

“I am convinced that sport can include us all… but as long as issues like this are not visible and made natural it will be difficult to advance. Respect is essential and the minimum we need to live in a better society free of prejudice.”

Arcos follows in the footsteps of YouTube star Tana Mongeau, X Factor alum Trevi Moran, Riverdale’s Lilli Reinhart, Mexican singer Raymix, Supergirl’s Chyler Leigh, Spanish singer Pablo Alborán, Detective Pikachu’s Justice Smith and Queen Sugar star Nicholas Ashe, who have all publicly come out to mark Pride Month.

You can read Daniel Arcos’ coming out statement in full below.

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????️‍???????? Orgulloso y libre.

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