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High school swimmer, 16, starts blog as part of coming out process

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"Sam I Am" is a new blog written by Sam, a 16-year-old high school junior in Pennsylvania. In ninth grade he was on the school swim team, but he quit his sophomore season, feeling inadequate and lonely, which he chalks up to wrestling with his sexuality. Sam now intends to rejoin his swim team this winter, and is using his blog as a way to reach out, come out and tell his story.

This year I will be passionate about swimming. Even if I sometimes get tired of the repetitive laps. Even if my body aches, or I worry if I look good enough in a speedo. Me swimming has nothing to do with any of that. It has to do with me trying new things (or re-trying old ones); getting a good workout that makes me feel better and stronger; and, most of all, having the support of friends and a team. Experiencing my life with other people, so I’m not so fucking alone all the time. I can’t quit again for stupid reasons. Unless I’m truly dissatisfied doing something, I won’t allow my negative and anxious feelings control me. I won’t let any negative stereotypes of being gay get into my head and ruin my season.

I know Sam's full name and his high school (it's about 50 miles northwest of Philadelphia), but am not using it since he is not out to his family and I did not want them to stumble across his blog, which is not yet a week old. I think he should come out on his own terms. He is an engaging and gifted writer and what comes through is a guy who is lonely and introspective, yet determined to make connections and reach out to others like him. His inspiration was the blog Brad, Robert, Ben that we wrote about early this year. As Sam told me:

I decided to start the blog because I was really inspired by Robert, Brad, and Ben. I wanted to write blogs before but I just thought it'd be ridiculous of me to do it. But then I saw their blog and it was honest and it meant something, and I'm very tired of feeling lonely and disconnected from a lot of my guy peers so I was hoping I could connect with them and other gay teens like me.

One theme that has shown up in Sam's posts is inadequacy, his feeling that being gay meant he couldn't be good enough as an athlete. It's something he is determined to conquer:

Last year, during my sophomore year, I quit the swim team. I didn’t try out for volleyball. I didn’t do the things I wanted because I just felt not good enough when I compared myself to the other guys. Honestly, comparing yourself to others is fucking hard. Don’t do it, and if you do (I mean we all do sometime or another) don’t let the thoughts define you. I knew it was the wrong choice but I felt like I couldn’t control it. I just didn’t feel like one of the guys. But I’ve learned that doesn’t matter. Whenever we put ourselves down, when we don’t feel like one of the guys, or we don’t feel good enough, we need to realize we are good enough. We are strong enough. We are athletic and talented and gifted enough. Being gay does not mean I am not as capable and adequate as every other guy. I let myself think that for too long and didn’t take chances that may have given me a bunch of friends and the support of a team. I am not going to make that mistake again, and I hope, whoever is reading this, that you don’t let negative thoughts and feelings stop you from achieving what you want either.

Sam's latest post is "I can't quit again," which could be his mantra and that of any young gay athlete struggling to fit in. Sam told me he thinks he would be accepted as gay by the swim team, though he is aware that he could be made fun of.

I urge people to check out Sam I Am and post comments or drop him a line. He especially wants to hear from other gay teens or athletes. I think these blogs can make a difference and welcome hearing new and powerful voices from people like Sam.