Tadd Fujikawa has become the first male professional golfer to publicly come out as gay.
The Hawaii-born 27-year-old made the announcement via Instagram, saying that he hoped it would “inspire each and every one of you to be more empathetic and loving towards one another”.
He added: “I've been back and forth for a while about opening up about my sexuality. I thought that I didn't need to come out because it doesn't matter if anyone knows. 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. 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. 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.
"Whether the LGBTQ is what you support or not, we must liberate and encourage each other to be our best selves, whatever that may be. It's the only way we can make this world a better place for future generations.”
Fujikawa turned professional in 2007 after setting some impressive records as an amateur. At the age of 15, he qualified for the 2006 US Open - the youngest golfer ever to do so. The following year, at the age of 16 year and four days, he made the cut on the Sony Open becoming, at that time, the second youngest player to ever make the cut on the PGA Tour that feat.
He concluded his Instagram post, saying: “I don't want this to be focused on me. I just want to spread love and acceptance to others who are in a similar situation. If anyone out there is struggling, please don't hesitate to reach out to me. YOU ARE LOVED AND YOU ARE ENOUGH...AS IS, EXACTLY AS YOU ARE!
“I can't wait for the day we all can live without feeling like we're different and excluded. A time where we don't have to come out, we can love the way we want to love and not be ashamed. We are all human and equal after all. So I dare you...spread love. Let's do our part to make this world a better place.”