(CNN)American golfer Tadd Fujikawa has announced he is gay.
In a lengthy, heartfelt Instagram post on World Suicide Prevention Day, Fujikawa said he hoped to be an “inspiration” for the LGCTQ community and help make a “difference in someone’s life.”
The 27-year-old is believed to be the first openly gay male professional golfer.
“So … I’m gay,” he wrote. “Many of you may have already known that. I don’t expect everyone to understand or accept me.
“But please be gracious enough to not push your beliefs on me or anyone in the LGBTQ community. My hope is this post will inspire each and every one of you to be more empathetic and loving towards one another.
“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.”
Fujikawa first burst onto the scene in 2006 when, aged 15, he qualified for the US Open, becoming the youngest golfer in history to qualify for the tournament.
Just a year later, the Hawaiian continued to break records, becoming the youngest golfer in 50 years to make the cut at a PGA Tour event when he reached the weekend of the Sony Open.
Fujikawa, who currently plays on the PGA Tour Canada, wrote about his struggles with mental health in October before going on to win the Hawaii State Open two months later, his first professional victory since he won the same tournament seven years earlier.
“I spent way too long pretending, hiding, and hating who I was. I was always afraid of what others would think/say,” he wrote.
“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.”