Anthony Nicodemo, high school coach, comes out
Two weeks ago, the Saunders High School basketball coach with a big heart could have never imaged he would tell his team and principal that he's gay.
On Saturday night I was able to sit back and watch my team capture the Yonkers City Championship. It was our second title in the past four years, but the first tournament championship since coming out. The next day, a rare in-season off day, I was able to sit back and reflect.
After Outsports published my initial story about being gay, multiple media outlets jumped on the story. It led to a few weeks of interviews and stories from all parts of the country. Three weeks later, a local media outlet opted to publish my story, but it took a very different angle than others: how I would handle slurs and discrimination, almost saying it was inevitable. Various administrators were asked what safeguards would be in place to protect my team and me. Random parents at a local park were interviewed and said they would not want their son playing for me.
"I wouldn't like someone like that coaching my kids," said Rob, a father of three boys, who declined to provide his last name. Saying he didn't want me in "close contact" with his sons, Rob repeatedly alluded to gays being pedophiles.
"Unfortunately, homosexuality is a sin ... I've still got my Christian values," Rob added, contending my announcement amounted to a role model saying, "It's OK to do those things."
A season and a half later, I have yet to hear a slur. My players have yet to hear a slur. Two classes of freshman have joined the roster and are good players. So being gay certainly hasn't stopped kids from attending the school. We were 13-6 last season, won a league title and traveled to Kentucky. This season we are off to a great start, sitting at 4-2 and in contention to win another league title.
Many times the media forces insecurities. Come out and your teammates will shun you. Come out and parents will run you out of town. It seems to be a better story. Only a few speak about how much more healthy your life will be and how you will be embraced, yet that is what I've seen happen for gay people in sports time and time again.
For 18 years coaching has been a joy. I have supported my players and watched them grow into men. After last week's championship over a dozen of them crossed the court to embrace and congratulate me. I am currently enjoying my career more then ever before. Current players and their parents have met friends like Wade Davis and Derek Schell. They have asked f I am dating, interested in meeting a partner. They are well aware that this person would become part of the Blue Devil family.
During the holidays it seems we all tend to reflect a little more on life. Writing this piece as I look at my Christmas tree, now more then ever, I am so happy to be authentic. The people closest to me know exactly who I am. Being authentic is a gift, certainly better then any present under the tree. I go to bed each night and sleep very well knowing that there are no more secrets.
For a very long time, I could never had imagined saying this: I'm proud of who I am, I'm proud to be gay.