Liam Huffman is a sophomore swimmer at George Washington University in Washington D.C. and said it has been easy to be openly gay on the team. But he told Erik Hall writing in the Washington Blade that for years prior he would try and appear more masculine in public.
Since sixth grade, Huffman said he was perceived to be gay by classmates. He tried to change the way he talked in junior high to mimic the football players. He tried to slow his speech and use fewer big words.
"I wanted to fit the standard of what a middle school boy, in my mind, was supposed to be," Huffman said.
He said he did not start to grapple with his sexual orientation until he entered his senior year of high school. But in recent years, he says, he recognizes that he fits some gay stereotypes.
"I often fall victim to the T-Rex arms. They’re always up," Huffman says. "I have a bit of a sway to my walk. My voice — the way I linger on certain words, the place that I put the accent — is all very typical gay stereotype."
Huffman did not start coming out to his family until January 2013 but told one teammate at GW as an incoming freshman and the whole team soon knew. This led one upperclassman, Adam Rabe, to be direct with Huffman and ask: "Dude, we are just asking [a teammate] how comfortable you were with gay jokes and stuff like that."
The conversation was a relief as it gave Huffman a chance to address the issue with the team at the start of his career there. It led to everyone becoming more comfortable with each other to the point where Huffman explained Grindr to them in what became a bonding exercise, as other swimmers wondered what Grindr tribe they would fit in.
Huffman went from being leery of coming out to even his family to totally out on his swim team less than a year later, discussing the etiquette of a gay hookup app. It's now no big deal for him, which is as it should be.