Since the beginning of high school, I have been known as a runner. This was how I identified myself, and how other people saw me as well. Throughout high school and college, when someone saw me, they always asked how running was going, I was just that guy. During the high school days and the beginning of college, I never thought I would come out to teammates. I felt that if I did, it would be the end of the special bond that exists between teammates. I knew I had supportive friends, but I couldn't bring myself to tell them the truth. I felt that some of my high school teammates would reject me if they found out, so I made sure they didn't.
While at my junior college I met a wide array of diverse, open minded people and began considering the idea of coming out. However, it took me a year and a half after high school to begin coming out to friends. In April, I decided to tell my teammates after I had read an article about Austin Hendrix and his own experience. I knew one of my best friends on the team, Cameron, had negative views on gay people and he was the one I wanted to tell most, but also the one I was most scared to be honest with. While we were taking a run together, I finally managed to gain enough courage to tell him I was gay and I didn't receive a response. Nothing. I felt like I may have made a mistake. I told a few more of the guys when we got back to school, but left immediately after practice so I didn't have time to hear their responses.
Two days later after practice, Cameron came up to me and told me that things were the same between us and nothing changed. It was a relief knowing that I still had my friend and that I made a difference for him. He didn't know anyone gay before that, and after I came out to him, he realized I was the same person. A lot of athletes don’t know gay people because; honestly, athletics is still not a place where many people come out. That’s why it’s so important to stay true to yourself AND stay true to your teammates. Sometimes it just takes one person to start the movement of acceptance in an athletic space.
A huge weight was lifted off my chest after I told him. Through the rest of the season, my team would apologize if they accidentally let “gay” slip in a negative sense. After seeing how my teammates responded, I didn't feel the need to be in the closet with my teammates at Cal Poly, and when it happened to come up in conversation, I just told them and they were fine with it.
I still don’t know any other out athletes at the schools I've attended, but I’m hoping to see more people come out. This is why it’s incredibly important for athletes to feel comfortable with their environment. Maybe then will they and have enough faith in their team, to entrust who they truly are with them. I have seen it happen with my own experience, and with the proper support, I know you can see it with yours.