Last week we brought you the story of James Nutter, a former college baseball player in Maine who was driven toward a suicide attempt by casual homophobia. How the story came about has an equally powerful message about the impact of coming out.
Boston Herald columnist Steve Buckley came out in 2011. I've gotten to know Steve over the last two years. Great guy. Back in the day, when Steve was living in Maine, he was friends with a ballplayer named Bob Nutter. Bob is James' father. Shortly after James' aborted suicide attempt a year ago, Bob contacted his friend Steve, who then connected James with me. Steve wrote a blog post about his role in the story at the Herald Press Box.
If Steve had never come out, the father of this suicidal athlete would have had nowhere to turn. And James' story would not have been told.
Now the dominoes keep falling. James has heard from hundreds of people since his story came out, including a number of closeted athletes looking for someone to talk to. Maybe a pen pal, maybe someone who becomes a close friend. Whatever comes of it, James' public coming out on Outsports has given these closeted athletes hope and someone to talk to. When one of them comes out publicly, more athletes will connect with him. And on and on and on....
This is why we and many others put so much emphasis on people coming out. For every person who comes out in their private life, dozens if not hundreds of people are affected, some of them straight people whose attitudes toward gay people will improve. Some of them are closeted gay youth and adults who feel they have someone to talk to.
Coming out publicly affects thousands. Tens of thousands have read the story of James Nutter. Hundreds of thousands have read the story of Steve Buckley. Millions have read the stories of Wade Davis and John Amaechi and others. There's simply no substitute for coming out. And with each coming out, another row of dominoes falls.