Dear struggling gay athlete,
I was once where you are now. Scared. Questioning. Alone.
Like you, I heard gay slurs in sports for much of your life, from PeeWee League coaches to high school teammates. Being anything but a straight dude has been, at some point, labeled weak and unworthy. The people in your life have told you that you are supposed to be straight, and if you are not you do not belong in sports because no gay man belongs in sports. They cannot contribute. They cannot succeed.
Those people have lied to you. For the most part, they haven't meant to. They're the victims of the same cycle you're now stuck in, this sports culture where gay men are "weaker," "lesser," "other." Alone. They have simply repeated what they were taught so many years ago, over the course of weeks and months of training with their peers.
105 LGBT people in sports who came out in 2015
LGBT people coming out and participating in sports is the most powerful tool we have in changing sports culture. These are 105 brave people who did just that.
But ultimately it is a lie. There are so many gay athletes out there, truly no one could count them. What's even better is they're waiting to help you. Like me, a former high school track star whose secret I was going to take to the grave, they remember what it was like feeling alone.
We want to help. We all want to help. That's why we put the email address or Facebook link to athletes at the end of every coming-out story we write. Whether it's football player Conner Mertens or swimmer Lauren Neidigh or basketball player Dalton Maldonado, they struggled at one time and have since discovered the beautiful wonder of coming out. They have found the community of LGBT athletes and coaches that has grown so substantially in the last year. They are now part of the network just looking to help you.
You are not alone. If you want to, you can be surrounded by people just like you, new friends who've been where you're headed. All you have to do is ask. Check out the coming-out stories on Outsports and drop an email or Facebook friend request to some of them. Go to GO! Athletes and message someone there about becoming part of their organization.
Even if you're not quite ready to "come out," or if you're just starting to question your sexuality, we are here to help you. All you have to do is ask.