Professional poker player Jason Somerville came out of the closet on his blog on Valentine's Day. Somerville won the $1,000 No Limit Hold 'Em event at the World Series of Poker last year, winning almost a half-million dollars (the $10k No Limit Hold 'Em is the "main event" that gets so much pub on ESPN). He held two aces in his final hand.
In his blog post he said the shutting-down of online poker on April 15, 2011, which was also his birthday, forced him to look inward for happiness for the first time (instead of sitting down at his computer to play poker). Like we hear from so many others, he always knew he wasn't straight:
By the time WSOP 2011 came around, I had already begun to want real change, and once WSOP passed I had a few important heart-to-hearts with some very close friends and my mindset finally started to actually change. I decided I wasn’t going to focus on making decisions that were in my best financial interest, I was going to focus on making decisions based on how they’d impact my happiness – without making excuses. The obstacles that I had always created for myself – what if this, what if that – I put aside, and began making changes instead.
I had put it off for a long time. I always knew I wasn’t straight, but I never spoke a word of it for twenty two years, and nobody really ever knew otherwise. I dated women exclusively through my teens and early 20s, doing my best to convince myself that it wasn’t something I had to pursue, that maybe I’d grow out of it, that I’d be happier with women anyway, that I just should focus on other things. After a lot of struggling and a lot of anxiety, I eventually came out to one of my close friends when I was 22. That same year, the second and third people I came out to were my parents (probably the hardest thing I’ve ever done), from which I basically received the not-exactly-what-I-needed reaction of “keep it to yourself, don’t tell anyone.” I told very few people from then until I was 24 (by the way, my parents are way better now).
As far as Somerville knows, he's the first male professional poker player at his level to come out publicly. We hope he wins big at this year's World Series of Poker this spring and summer.
Hat tip to Towleroad.