Chris Voth is a 6-5, 23-year-old volleyball star who trains with Canada's national men's team. This weekend he came out in an article in the Winnipeg Free Press that chronicled his journey.
"It was tough," Chris says. "I've kind of been living that life for about five years. It was pretty much sport that kept me going, teammates and friends I had through sport. The first person I told was a teammate in second-year university and I got to the point where most of my close friends knew but no family members. You imagine the worst so it took a while before I was ready to jump off the cliff and take the plunge with family."
Last fall, Chris came out to his family in a letter to his parents. Then he was gone for four months of training in Gatineau. When he came home to spend Christmas with his parents, there were talks and tears.
"We certainly are supportive of Chris and we try not to be judgmental but it's still very new to the both of us," says Lloyd Voth, Chris's dad. "Where we're at with our son is we still love him the same, there's no difference in terms of how we treat him. However, it's still something we're not sure how we're going to handle in the future."
Voth was raised in a very religious family whose church does not approve of same-sex marriage, so the topic of him being gay has been delicate. His story is very familiar to that of a lot of gay athletes, as is his reason for finally coming out publicly:
"My motivation here is, I know when other athletes have come out, there is a lot of negative reaction. If it is all negative but one person gets helped, then we're even. If one more person gets helped, then we're plus-one," says Chris. "I wish when I was growing up I had a role model for that. It was still kind of taboo. Now I see some athletes coming out and that's kind of inspired me. Maybe I can help the people that follow me be more comfortable."
His story has already had an impact, as he wrote on his Facebook page and on Twitter, saying, "I also heard a lot of stories from other people as well today; about their troubles, their successes, and I really appreciate that. It's great to hear from everyone and I am honored to have been told that I played a role in their lives."