We have written a lot celebrating how it has gotten better for many gay teenage athletes, profiling several this year with their heartwarming stories of acceptance. But this story out of Northumberland County in Ontario, Canada, reminds us that for many gay teen athletes, staying in the closet is seen as their only option.
The Northumerland News is starting a series on gay athletes in their area and they begin with "Ryan," a high school hockey player who can't reconcile his love of his sport with being gay. And the reasons are all too familiar.
The young teen from Northumberland County fears if he came out, not only would he be ridiculed and embarrassed, but he strongly believes his life would be at risk -- either by his own hands, or his teammates.
"The guys on my team talk, I've heard them," said Ryan. "They say stuff like, 'you're such a fag' and 'I hate faggots.'"
Ryan recounts one time after a game where a teammate shared his disgust for homosexuals.
"He said, 'If I ever meet a faggot, I'll (expletive) kill him,'" said Ryan.
That's when Ryan made the decision never to come out with his sexual orientation. He believes his love of the game and his sexuality may never co-exist.
The paper discovered Ryan through a local gay support group and the story is a sad one. By the account, he does not fit any stereotype his teammates have of gay people, which makes it possible for him to stay closeted, but also makes him miserable to the point of considering suicide.
"Sometimes the pain is too great, but I know if I wasn't here anymore that wouldn't really help the situation either. I have to be stronger than that," said Ryan.
Reading this made my heart ache for Ryan and wishing I could somehow help. It is good that he is in a support group and hope that he can find happiness as he gets older.
Hat tip to Puck Buddies.