I continue to be impressed with Craig Cassey, the Pennsylvania high school track athlete whose blog, Craig's Gay Word, is a must-read for anyone interested in what it's like be a gay teen athlete. His latest post lists three reasons to come out to your coach.
It may seem unimaginable, why would you want to come out to your coach? In talking with my peers that I counsel, a coach’s reaction to learning we are gay is a common fear – and not without reason. ... Yet more often than not, our coaches ...honestly just want to help – with our sport that is. ... Because they care, we should begin believing that coming out to them is not an experience worth sweating over and that it can potentially help save your high school sports career.
Conflict avoidance is one reason Craig suggests coming out to your coach: "One of the best reasons to come out to your coach is to stave off any conflict or abuse by allowing your coach the chance to intervene." The second reason is performance: "No matter your coach’s feelings towards homosexuality, the one thing they should care about is how you compete." The third reason is as a catalyst for change: "Not to be mistaken for “changing your homophobic coach into an lgbt enthusiast,” this step is more along the lines of promoting action with your coach against homophobia on your team to make it a safer environment for everyone." The reality, of course, is that coming out to their coach is the last thing many gay high school athletes want to consider. But Craig lays out a template for those who might be pondering it. His blog is becoming a how-to manual for young people wrestling with their sexuality; for example, check out his tips on coming out and a terrific three-part series on dealing with homophobic slurs. I am curious as to whether people reading this ever came out to a coach and what advice you would give.