IAN Thorpe is the happiest he's ever been since coming out.
But there's one regret the swimming champ has about the experience and that's he wishes he did it earlier.
In a heartbreaking insight on Anh's Brush With Fame which airs on ABC tonight, Thorpe reveals why he finally decided to come out after being dogged by rumours for years.
The star also reveals how stigma had contributed to his fears about revealing his sexuality.
"You know I was accused of being gay when... I think I was 16 at the time," he tells host Anh Do.
"But because it was kind of like I was being accused of it, I'd always thought of it, as that being a bad thing."
The swimming champ goes on to reveal how hard it was for him to tell his friends and family that he was gay and how he wanted to come out on TV "just so it's done".
But the five-time Olympic gold medallist said they advised him to get used to it first.
Determined to do it anyway he said coming out allowed him to be the person he really is and "that's a powerful thing to have."
Do also asks the 34-year-old if it's hard having to think about walking down the street and asking whether it's OK to hold your partner's hand or not.
"There is still homophobia," Thorpe replies.
He also reveals how he once gave his boyfriend, Ryan Channing, a peck on the cheek in the back of a car but was told how it was disgusting and to show some respect.
"I didn't realise that in Sydney in 2016, this can happen," he said.
He said this was why it was so important to have marriage equality - so people don't feel like second class citizens or that they're doing anything wrong.
The man dubbed Thorpedo also reveals the mixed blessings he had with having success so young as well as his battle with depression.
His painful struggles behind the headlines are also laid bare.
Thorpe also tells Do of the sacrifice his parents made in helping him follow his dreams as well as how it felt to become a world champion at just 15.
In February last year, Thorpe made his relationship with Perth-born model Channing public and after a decade of living between LA, Switzerland and Australia finally settled back home.
Thorpe realised he was gay at just 16 while attending an all-boys school in Sydney but kept it quiet for fear of being bullied.
Last month he revealed to news.com.au how he's now using his struggle to help others in a similar situation.
"I feel as though I have a responsibility to my community," he said.
"I really want to be able to help people. Someone told me - and I wish I was told this earlier - when you come out, you become an example that makes it easier for someone else who is struggling to come out."
Update your news preferences and get the latest news delivered to your inbox.