By Brian Healey
I came out to two of my best friends on one of Saint Michael’s most storied days of revelry. P-Day at Saint Mike’s is our answer to the traditional “Spring Weekend” before finals. It feels like a big music video shoot for one of those bands with Miley Cirus’ brother in it. Picture a lot of sweaty, boozed-up kids running around eating, drinking, and being merry in a way only the last party weekend of the year can inspire.
It was the end of my freshman year, and I finally figured it was time to tell my friends what most of them already knew. When I finally worked up the courage to say it, there were a lot of tears and hugs and one very well timed spin of that classic record “It’s Raining Men” by a local radio station that I swear must have been listening to the conversation I was having. It obviously felt pretty nice, and being the small community, the news gradually disseminated itself through my friends and acquaintances alike.
And it was fine. Even the friends I’d been worried about telling were OK. My best friend Amanda was a little disappointed, simply for the fact she’d always thought I’d come around, realize we were meant to be together, and live happily ever after; what would any good coming out story be without one heartbroken female? She and I are still together in the sense that we’re the closets of friends, there’s just no delusions of marriage any more, at least on my part.
Telling my parents was difficult, but for the best, and I can happily say my relationship with them has never been stronger. To my surprise, my mother was surprised when I told her. All the “girl friends” I’d had throughout high school, it seems, were mistaken for girlfriends. I’m from a pretty small town in Western Massachusetts called Ware, and it’s pretty fair to say that four-wheelin’ and puttin’-down Bud heavies in the back of your pick-up are the sort of activity that seem to define my generation’s idea of a good time here. And even though my parents are townies, they’re really intelligent, loving people and have never given me anything but support.
For as long as I can remember I’ve known I was gay. I can remember a particular affinity for the Red Ranger and Jonathan Taylor Thomas in his “Home Improvement” days. One of my cousins -- who also turned out to be gay -- and I grew up obsessed with reruns of “Golden Girls” and “The Nanny.” How anybody missed out on those telltale signals is beyond me, but I digress.
My experience as a gay athlete has actually been overwhelmingly positive, especially the past spring and fall seasons. Tennis seems to be a pretty accepting body of people, and my teammates at Saint Mike’s are a bunch of really goofy, really nice dudes.
I never really had to come out to them, because SMC is really small and chances are people know who you are and at least one personal detail about you even if you’ve never been formally introduced.
One of my best friends on the team or anywhere is a guy named Chris. He’s possibly the most loving, kindhearted person I know. He’s a junior, and one of the people I’ll miss most next year. To reference P-Day once more, this past year I was up later than anyone else on campus. One time I left him a dramatic, drunken-feelings voice mail about how much I appreciate he and the other guys on the team. The next day I woke up to a voice mail from Chris saying some really nice things about how much he and the rest of the team would support me no matter what. I won’t ever forget how validated that made me feel, as a man, a teammate and an athlete.
This past year I was lucky enough to be involved in a project at Saint Mike’s as a part of the “It Gets Better” campaign that involved a lot of students, athletes, and administrators rallying around the cause. Though I’m sure there are other gay athletes at SMC, I don’t happen to know any of them personally. I don’t know any other gay athletes around the NE-10 Conference either, but I’ve never experienced any negativity around the subject and I don’t ever expect to. I hope the video, at the very least, spoke to an athlete at or elsewhere who’s struggling with their sexual identity or with fitting in.
It was one of the most rewarding activities I’ve ever been a part of, and I feel very lucky to have been a part of it, and we had an overwhelmingly positive response. It makes me really proud to have been a part of the production and a character in the video that reached more people than we ever though it would.
We may be a bunch of granola munching, brown clog wearing hippies in Vermont, but to me it seems like Vermonters are a more laid back, caring breed, and I couldn’t be happier that I chose to spend some of the best years of my life in the Green Mountain State.
Brian Healey, 21, is a Media Studies, Journalism, and Digital Arts Major and Spanish Minor at Saint Michael's College. He is captain of the men's tennis team. He can be contacted via email (email@example.com), Facebook (https://www.facebook.com/Brian.Healey.SMC) or Twitter (bheals11).