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Dad on teen athlete's son's coming out: 'A liberation for all of us'

Editor's note: A month ago, we ran the first-person coming out story by high school volleyball player Galen Dodd. His father, Ian, wrote us a week later and then gave us permission to reprint his letter. We seldom hear from parents about how their child's coming out affected them and thought Ian Dodd's letter would provide some insight.

Dear Jim and Cyd: posted a story by my son, Galen Dodd, about his experiences of coming out to his friends, family and volleyball teammates. You noted that Galen, at 15, was probably the youngest contributor who had submitted a coming out story to your publication.

I just wanted to tell you about some of the responses to his story we have all gotten this week. And the good news is the responses have been unanimously positive.

Galen Dodd with his father, Ian Dodd, and mother, Margot Page

On Sunday night, hours after his story was posted, he shared it on Facebook as did his sister and my wife and I. The comments when we woke up the next morning from other friends and family (many of whom we had not shared with before that) were all very supportive. His aunt and uncle described their feeling of pride and reposted the link on their pages. Work friends of mine all congratulated me on Monday morning and several of them reposted the story on their own pages.

Yesterday, Galen received an email from a reader who had played volleyball in college with his current club coach and has coached on the girls side of the club.

Last night, when Galen walked into practice he was immediately approached by one of the coaches, a straight guy, who in front of the entire team threw his arms around Galen in a big hug. Somebody had forwarded the story to the club coaches and they had all read it. The club director, the head coach of USC's men's volleyball, told Galen he was a welcome member of the club "family" and they would always be there for one of their players.

This is just to give you an idea of what this week has been like. As you know from his story, my wife and I were not the first people Galen came out to. When he did (or rather, when his sister did for him) that was almost the last it was mentioned for quite some time. Not because we didn't want to talk about it, but Galen was the one who resisted. It was almost like, "I told you. You know. Now we don't have to talk about it anymore." Eventually, we gave up pushing it and decided he would come around in his own time. But this was tough for us because, although we wanted to share with people close to us and Galen, we wanted to always respect his privacy, so we were stuck between protecting his secret or violating his confidence.

In just the past few months Galen has made a dramatic shift and it has now become an open topic of conversation in our house. With the publication of his story on Outsports, and sharing it with family, friends, teammates and coaches, the veil of secrecy has lifted. Galen is obviously comfortable sharing his story with the world and so, in a sense, his liberation has been a liberation for all of us. This has been a joyful week, full of wonderful surprises, and has brought us all closer together.

Just thought you guys might like to hear about some of the positive impact has had. Keep up the good work.

Ian Dodd