Metro Weekly

Track Star Trey Cunningham Comes Out

The 25-year-old U.S. hurdler, who missed out on qualifying for the Olympics last month, came out as gay in a New York Times interview.

Trey Cunningham (Photo: Instagram)
Trey Cunningham -Photo: Instagram

Trey Cunningham, an internationally-ranked high hurdler who made the 110-meter finals at the U.S. Olympic trials last month, has come out publicly as gay.

The 25-year-old former Florida State University standout came out privately to family and friends at age 20, calling the process “the scariest thing I’ve ever done” in an exclusive interview with The New York Times.

For Cunningham, who grew up in rural Winfield, Alabama, raised by a conservative family, the idea of being gay was quite foreign. He says it took him a few years to accept his own sexuality, and the idea that his life would be different from how he thought it would be. His parents also initially pushed back on the news.

“What was true for me was also true for my parents,” he said. “They had certain expectations for their little boy, for what his life would be like, and that’s OK. I gave them a five-year grace period. I had to take my time. They could take theirs, too.”

Cunningham first made his mark on the international circuit two years ago, winning the silver medal in the 110-meter hurdles at the 2022 World Championships. That same year, while competing for Florida State, he won the 110-meter hurdles at the 2022 NCAA Outdoor Track and Field Championships and the 60-meter hurdles at the 2022 NCAA Indoor Championships.

Cunningham’s athletic success in his final year of college earned him several prestigious awards, including the Bowerman Award — the track and field equivalent of football’s Heisman Award, given to the best athlete in the sport that year — as well as the 2022 Track and Field News National Athlete of the Year, the 2022 ACC Men’s Outdoor Track Performer of the Year, and the 2022 USTFCCCA Outdoor South Region Track Athlete of the Year.

He was also named Amateur Athlete of the Year by the Alabama Sports Writers Association, beating out then-University of Alabama quarterback Bryce Young, who became the first overall pick of the 2023 NFL draft.

This year, Cunningham placed fifth in the 110-meter hurdles at the Prefontaine Classic in Oregon on May 25, first in the Racers Grand Prix in Jamaica on June 1, and first at the New York Grand Prix in New York City.

In February, he won the USA Track & Field 60-meter indoor title in Albuquerque. 

At the June U.S. Olympic Trials, Cunningham made the finals for the 110-meter hurdles but failed to place in the top three, which would have qualified him for the Olympics. Nonetheless, he is still competing on the international track circuit. 

While Cunningham’s sexuality hasn’t yet become an issue, it could pose problems in the future, especially if he travels to compete in world competitions in countries where homosexuality is criminalized.

For example, he would have to consult his management before traveling to a meet in a country like Qatar, where homosexuality is punishable by one to three years in prison.

Cunningham noted fewer male athletes have come out as LGBTQ, telling the Times that “[t]here are lots of people who are in this weird space. They’re not out. But it is kind of understood.”

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