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Jock Struggles With Coming Out

Indiana High School Basketball Star Stays in the Closet, but His Secret Carries a Price

(This story was published in 2003).

By: Coach Eric "Gumby" Anderson

(Editor's note: From Hoosiers like Wooden, Robertson, Plump, Bird and Bailey to the thousands of kids who dream of achieving their likes, Indiana and basketball seem indivisible. The state has such a profuse history, perhaps obsession, with the game that we commonly associate the nickname "Hoosiers" for a basketball player, rather than with the mostly rural citizens of Indiana it was originally intended for. Basketball is certainly at the core of life in Indiana. But what is it like to grow up a closeted gay superstar basketball player in a small, homophobic town? For the purposes of this story, we have allowed the athlete to be anonymous.)

The wood floor of the high school gym creaks a bit as Blake shuffles his 6’4” 190 pound body up and down the court. He stays very late after practice. Although the rest of the team has gone home, Blake remains, shooting basket after basket, buying insurance against suspicion.

Blake, as he will be known until he comes out, has a mean jump shot. He is one of the best guards in Indiana high school basketball, the subject of town talk and media coverage, yet he is only in his junior year.

Blake learned long ago that athletes are commonly perceived as incapable of being gay – a veneer he has taken advantage of. And in the dead of a Midwestern winter, the fans come out to cheer their up-and-coming, yet reluctant, closeted superstar.