01/20/2015 04:41 EST | Updated 03/22/2015 05:59 EDT

Coming out: Eric Radford wants to tear down barriers

I am not someone who thinks that all aspects of a skater’s life are up for grabs. If invited into a personal moment, I’ll go there, but beyond that detailing with what goes on in a person’s “real life” isn’t my story to tell.

I was intrigued when, in early December 2014, champion pairs skater Eric Radford decided to come out publicly in magazine. 

The Canadian Olympic Committee launched its #OneTeam Athlete Ambassador initiative the week before to promote inclusion in the LGBTQ community, and that was the turning point for Eric. 

In this excerpt of my latest podcast, Eric and I talk about some of the challenges he faced growing up gay, and as a figure skater in a small town, what it would have meant to him to have had a role model that reflected his own story. 

For the moment, the flurry of attention surrounding the gay aspect of Eric’s story is front and centre. Eric’s bigger story, in my mind, is his willingness to share aspects of his personal life, like his sexuality, in order to tear down barriers. He had been asked to share his story before but felt that the time wasn’t right until now.

I get the feeling that coming out publicly was not something that Eric needed to do for himself because he said that people in his circle already knew he was gay. Being able to lead by example and share his story in the hopes that it will resonate with others who may be struggling with being their authentic selves is the bigger lesson.

In his words, he had a momentary “panic attack” before the piece was published, but is ultimately happy to have shared his story.

He is fine with being known as “Eric the gay athlete.” Eventually though, with total acceptance of everything that makes up this fine person, wouldn’t it be great to be known as he would like to be: Eric. Just Eric.

Eric can be followed on Twitter@RAD85E