Coming out is a process, and people come out to people they know in different ways that feel right. The athletes below might have been out to some people using conventional methods and came out to other via technology (YouTube, Twitter, Facebook, e-mail), their baking skills or as a way to make a political statement.
In honor of June being Pride Month, here are 30 unique ways LGBT athletes have come out.
(Click on the athlete's name to read more.)
1. Jason Collins, basketball: Came out in first-person interview in Sports Illustrated.
"I'm a 34-year-old NBA center. I'm black. And I'm gay.
"I didn't set out to be the first openly gay athlete playing in a major American team sport. But since I am, I'm happy to start the conversation. I wish I wasn't the kid in the classroom raising his hand and saying, 'I'm different.' If I had my way, someone else would have already done this. Nobody has, which is why I'm raising my hand."
2. Parker Camp, swimming: Came out to his mom via e-mail.
"Although I have lived a life of denial and deceit, full of depression, loneliness, shame, and frustration I can stand up and truthfully say that is all in the past. I’m ready to face what I must to live the life I deserve. After years of struggle I am now able to fully accept this part of who I am and I have never been more proud. After years of struggle I have never been more relieved."
3. Brittney Griner, basketball: Came out to the world in a roundtable chat with Sports Illustrated.
"Being one that's out, it's just being who you are. Again, like I said, just be who you are. Don't worry about what other people are going to say, because they're always going to say something, but, if you're just true to yourself, let that shine through. Don't hide who you really are."
4. Michael Sam, football: Came out to his Missouri teammates in a summer bonding session.
Once out to himself, he never tried to hide it and told his Missouri Tigers teammates officially before the 2013 season. While he said many people on the team knew or suspected, he told them all he was gay during a team bonding meeting in August. Players were asked to share something about them that no one knew, and Sam decided that this was the best time to let everyone know who didn't already.
His teammates were universally accepting and he said he did not have any problems on the team about it. He said that he even occasionally took straight teammates to gay clubs, including at the recent Cotton Bowl in Dallas, a sign of their embrace of him and the fun they had hanging out with the gregarious, outgoing Sam.
5. Connor Mertens, football. Had his coach tell his team that Mertens had written an open letter to his community.
"A few months ago I realized that I am only limited as a person by the limitations I have placed on myself. That being said, it is important to me to tell you that I, Connor Mertens, am bisexual. If that makes you uncomfortable, I refuse to apologize for being who I am."
6. LeQuan Chapman, track and field. Sent his team an email.
"I hope that the break is going well for you all, and you're training hard in preparation for this upcoming season. I just wanted to let you all know that I am gay. In respect, as you are my new Track family, I wanted to make sure that you heard this from me and not in another way."
7. Holden Richards, lacrosse: Making out with a guy in front of his teammates.
Kenyon [College] holds a big annual end-of-year party for the students called Summer Sendoff. The party is right outside of the Phi Kappa Sigma house where Richards lives with his other fraternity brothers, including lacrosse teammate Colin McMahon.
McMahon and a couple of their brothers headed to the party and saw two men kissing passionately in front of their house. He didn't think much of it until after passing by the couple a second time and realizing one of the amorous men was Richards.
"He was just making out with another dude outside the house," McMahon remembered, laughing. "So I figured, well, I guess that's what Holden wants to do. He isn't shy to express what he wants to do. He has a lot of resilience, screw what the haters say."
8. John Fennell, luger: Started coming out while competing in the Winter Olympics in Sochi this February.
"I had been training like crap all week - hitting, crashing and flipping. I was sitting in the start handles and I had almost this suffocating moment. I started hyperventilating, and I couldn't breathe. I thought to myself, 'how the hell am I brave enough to go down this hill if I can't be brave enough to be who I am?' " He mustered the courage to come out a month later in the country he feared most. ...
9. Nick Jessee, swimmer: Came out at college via a dry erase board.
The Rainbow Alliance, a student organization, photographed LGBT people and allies for All of Us. Each person held a sign that said why they support the LGBT community. Allies wrote the words "I'm an ally because ..." and explained why they support LGBT rights. Gay individuals tweaked the phrase to say why they need an ally. The photos will be displayed around campus near the end of the semester.
Nick Jessee, a St. Louis University swimmer, took a red marker. He picked nine words to write on the dry erase board that he would hold for his picture.
"I need an ally because there ARE gay athletes," Jessee wrote.
10. Lauren Elizabeth Neidigh, swimming. Came out to her University of Arizona team at a meeting.
"We were all in the locker room before practice and people were waiting to see why we were meeting. I’m generally a person of few words and I don’t show a lot of emotion. What happened in that meeting is a little bit of a blur. I remember sitting across from my friends and trying to find the right words to say. Sure I had been over it in my head a million times, but that didn’t matter. I forgot every last word of what I wanted to say. This was one of those rare moments when I actually have to say what I’m feeling and not what I think would be the most appropriate.
"This is really hard for me but at this point I have to stop pretending that I can hide this forever. I don’t know what I’m doing anymore and I keep putting myself in really hard situations. I just want to live my life. There’s no easy way to tell you that I’m gay and I just hope it doesn’t change anything. You’re all beautiful, but you can’t have me," I choked out a laugh with a red face and tears hot on my cheeks. "
11. Chandler Whitney, baseball. Came out to his team as people shared stories from over winter break.
When the baseball team gathered for the first practices of the new year, talk turned to stories from winter break. Because he'd spent much of the break with [football player Connor] Mertens, Whitney felt the time was now. He stood up in front of the team, said he had contemplated whether to tell them a secret or not, and shared a "confession" he'd been holding back from them since they first met:
The team broke into spontaneous applause. It took Whitney off-guard.
12. Alexandre Coholan, track and field. Came out to some friends via coded cupcakes.
"One final example I used for coming out was baking cupcakes (mint chocolate, my favorite) with "I LIKE MEN!" spelled out, one letter per cupcake. I had heard of other people who had used this method and thought it was a very creative and fun way that I wanted to use. I baked the cupcakes one night and brought them to university the next day for two of my classmates. One friend understood quickly, while the other asked me what was written on the cupcakes before saying that my cupcake writing skills needed a bit of help. I guess she was right."
13. Drew Davis, volleyball. Inadvertently outed when a teammate was in the same room when Davis' ex Skyped that he tested HIV negative.
The Skype conversation went stale and Davis ended the call. He turned to Schneck and tried kick-starting a conversation. But there was now a pink elephant in the room.
"I know you heard that," Davis said.
"Well, I'm gay," Davis confirmed. "Patrick was my boyfriend."
"Dude, I don't care."
14. Scott Cooper, football. Having been out to his team, he came out publicly on campus by speaking at National Coming Out Day.
"Now, you don’t hear of very many football players who are also gay. Honestly, I was terrified of how my teammates would take it. But I knew that hiding myself and my personality was a) not going to be possible and b) something I told myself I’d never do again. The first year on the team, I didn’t make it a big deal, and I really didn’t talk about it much. I wanted guys to get to know me for me, as a person and a football player, not just as the gay guy. However, my spot-on lip-sync to Whitney Houston may have given it away. "
15. Ryan Dafform swimming. Came out to his Purdue team by dating a guy.
"By December of my senior year I had begun dating someone, and in doing so, the coming out process with my team and friends just naturally happened. I didn't have to have a talk, although I did speak with a few individually. It was this really awesome, cool and open dialogue between my teammates and me. Believe it or not, most were mad at me for not coming out sooner and telling them. I thought that was the coolest reaction.
"My teammates and friends expressed that nothing changed in how they viewed me or in our individual friendships. They had so many questions, and I enjoyed answering them. It showed me they cared by wanting to be more informed and wanting to understand. A surreal feeling took over. For years I had dreaded this moment and thought it would never happen. In reality, coming out to my team and friends was a complete relief. It was a moment of pure happiness."
16. Tom Daley, diving. Came out on a YouTube video that he was dating a gay. Came out officially a few months later as gay.
"Come spring this year, my life changed. Massively. When I met someone and it made me feel so happy, so safe. Everything just feels great. That someone is a guy. And it did take me by surprise a little bit. It was always in the back of my head that something like that could happen, but it wasn't until spring this year that something clicked. It felt right."
17. Mikey Drougas, tennis. Came out on Twitter.
"I feel like I am in a place now where I am secure enough to laugh and/or roll my eyes at those who don't respect/agree with what it means to be attracted to the same sex, but I'm also in a place where I want others to know more about me. A person's sexuality by no means defines a person, but it definitely has shaped how I see the world. Because of my identity, I have put up a wall out of fear of rejection for far too long. I see missed opportunities and friendships b/c of that notion of rejection. I guess this note is making up for lost time."
18. Jesse Klug, soccer. Came out to his team by telling them about his boyfriend.
"I came out to my team when I first arrived on campus, simply by saying that I had a boyfriend when they asked me if I was in a relationship. They reacted splendidly, and I have received an incredible amount of support from the team and from the program as a whole."
19. Derek Schell, basketball. Told his teammates one at a time.
"I decided talking to them individually was better than giving a general speech at once, since I have a distinct relationship with each of them. I went to each of them and told them I treated them as brothers, since I have none biologically, and that this is just a part of me they finally deserved to know. Some said they had a feeling and were waiting for me to tell them. Some seemed surprised but nonetheless gave me credit for being open about it."
20. Meleana Shim, soccer. Came out publicly the day before her team played a championship match.
"I feel like there are a lot of gay women in soccer. But not very many of us openly talk about it. I think now more of us are starting to take a stand, but I still don't think it's very representative of just how many of us there are. I think the silence sends a message that it's not OK to be a lesbian in sports, or that it's a taboo topic."
21. Belle Brockhoff, snowboarding. Came out prior to the Winter Olympics to protest Russia's anti-gay laws.
"I want to be proud of who I am and be proud of all the work I've done to get into the Olympics and not have to deal with this law."
22. Darren Young, pro wrestling. Told a TMZ cameraman at the Los Angeles airport he is gay.
"Look at me, you know? I'm a WWE superstar and, to be honest with you, I'll tell you right now, I'm gay. And I'm happy. Very happy. ... I don't think it matters. Does it matter? Does it matter to you? Does it change what you think about me?"
23. Sharnee Zoll-Norman, pro basketball. The WNBA player had never hid her sexuality but came out publicly by riding in the Chicago Pride parade.
"I never felt whether I'm gay, straight, bi, [or] whatever that my sexuality had anything to do with me as a basketball player, and I don't think it necessarily has anything to do with me as a person. If I was straight, I wouldn't have to come out and say that I was straight. So I've never had an official coming-out, or something where I felt I had to announce that I was gay. But everyone knows. I wear my wedding ring proudly; I have matching tattoos with my wife, and also have her name tattooed on me."
24. Mitch Anderson, swimming. Came out in a speech at his high school graduation.
"I myself am guilty of self-doubt, relying on others to give my life definition. But that time has passed, and I feel the moment has arrived for me to be publicly true to my personal identity. So now, I can say, I'm gay. It is both a significant portion of who I am and an inconsequential aspect. It's as natural and effortless to me as breathing. I couldn't change myself even if I wanted, and believe me, I have."
25. Tony Jovenitti, sportswriting. Came out in a column on Outsports, inspired by Jason Collins.
"I was overjoyed to see Jason Collins invite us to know the real Jason Collins. I posted it on my Facebook to let my friends hear the news, but thanks to my internal censor, I couldn’t really reveal just how excited I was. I couldn’t let people know exactly how much this meant to me, they might find out my secret!
"But then I thought about it for a while. The thing I admired most about Collins’ story is that he came out in his own words, by writing his own story."
26. Jack Davis, swimming. Came out in a high school history class.
"It has been one year since I raised my hand in a U.S. history class during a lecture on gay rights, and came out as gay to 40 of my peers and my favorite teacher.
"My coming out in class was spontaneous and a fortunate timing of events. I was looking for a way to come out to everyone, and coincidentally, we were learning about the counter-conformity of the 1960s, including gay rights. When a slide popped up that mentioned Stonewall and that many people were coming out at this time, I shot up my hand and said, "I think I'll take this opportunity to come out, and say that I'm gay." My classmates clapped and cheered and high-fived, and it all worked out perfectly."
27. Robbie Rogers, soccer. Came out on his blog.
"Now is my time to step away. It’s time to discover myself away from football. It’s 1 A.M. in London as I write this and I could not be happier with my decision. Life is so full of amazing things. I realized I could only truly enjoy my life once I was honest. Honesty is a bitch but makes life so simple and clear. My secret is gone, I am a free man, I can move on and live my life as my creator intended."
28. Galen Dodd, volleyball. Came out on Facebook.
"My last step came Aug. 26, a Friday, one of the most important days of my life. The week prior was spent procrastinating about wanting to come out. Whenever I was ready to hit the Facebook "share" button, I got scared and backed off. Finally at 11:45 that Friday night, I posted a Facebook status update that said: 'Galen + PMSing + Oh f*** it= I'M GAY... So yea delete me if you want, otherwise goodnight Los Angeles!,' and it felt great! All weekend, my phone was buzzing with activity of people "liking," "commenting," and "messaging" me to show their support. In three days, I had 82 likes, 47 comments, and no one had deleted me."
29. Vince Pryor, college football. Came out in a religious forum at TCU.
The idea was for people who were gay to raise their hands and then go up on stage and introduce themselves. "I walked up and said, ‘Hello, I’m Vincent Pryor, football player for Texas Christian University.’ … I then forget what happened after that point. I was probably too stunned to remember anything."
30. Brian Healey, tennis. Came out to his friends at a party while "It's Raining Men" was playing.
"I came out to two of my best friends on one of Saint Michael’s most storied days of revelry. P-Day at Saint Mike’s is our answer to the traditional "Spring Weekend" before finals. It feels like a big music video shoot for one of those bands with Miley Cirus’ brother in it. Picture a lot of sweaty, boozed-up kids running around eating, drinking, and being merry in a way only the last party weekend of the year can inspire."
Have you had a unique way to come out to someone? Post it in the comments.