High school volleyball player and track & field athlete Jaxon Cork took the plunge out of the closet on social media late last week by saying "I am gay" publicly for the first time.
Cork was a middle/outside hitter last season for Matrix Club Volleyball in Phoenix, Ariz., about three hours from his small hometown of Safford with its 10,000 residents 40 minutes from New Mexico. Because his high school doesn't have a boys volleyball team, he has to drive to Phoenix to play the sport he loves.
He's struggled for the last couple of years with his identity as a closeted gay young man and an athlete. It was because of the support he's gotten from at least one other gay high school athlete that he was able to finally share his truth with people in his life.
"Eventually with the help of Alejandro Graterol I came out to my entire school and family. I never thought that I'd be able to say the words "I am gay" to my own mother especially not in person. With much hesitation I just started out the conversation with "mom... I am gay" she replied with "okay" and accepted me the moment I told her."
Two gay volleyball players at Southern college
Erskine College volleyball player Drew Davis, who struggled with reconciling being gay with the Southern Baptist Church, was outed inadvertently to one of his teammates during a Skype chat. Juan Varona was out in high school in Puerto Rico.
As we've said on Outsports over and over again, one person's ability to life his truth leads to another. Without Graterol sharing his story on Outsports a year ago, Cork may have never found a connection to his inner courage, or certainly would have found it later than he did. Both Outsports and the Sports Equality Foundation are committed to the undeniable fact that it is by people coming out in sports that we change the culture of sports.
Cork said there have been a couple of people in his life who have blanched at the news, but otherwise he's been surrounded by incredible support.
He hopes to play volleyball in college after he graduates from Safford High School in 2017. While volleyball is his main sport, he is also a hurdler for his high school track & field team.
This is the message Cork shared on Facebook and Twitter last week:
I have spent many years of my life struggling with my own thoughts. I have asked myself, "Is it worth sharing such a personal detail with the whole world?" After thinking long about it I have come to the conclusion that it is because in order for me to live a happy life I can't continue to walk around with such a big secret about myself.
So I'm just going to come out and say it, I am gay.
I have always been so fearful of what people would think, how many friends I was going to lose because of this. But in all actuality if these people I call my ‘friends' were actually my friends then they would accept me for who I am, they wouldn't let this affect the way they feel about me.
Being gay doesn't change who I am, the only change you will see about me is that I'm finally in terms with my sexuality and I'm comfortable with sharing something about myself that I've never shared before. I want to you all to understand that being gay is not a choice and if I were given the choice being gay is definitely not what I would've chose. I have tried to fight this feeling and it's not one that you can change or make go away.
Some people have strong feelings against gays and I'm aware of that. I'm also aware that for some of you, your opinion is going to entirely change after knowing this about me, but hopefully that's not the case and me coming out changes your opinion of gays entirely.
Words don't begin to explain how extremely grateful I am for all the people in my life that already knew this about me and accepted it, especially my good friend Alejandro for helping me make my way through this scary process of coming out. I know this might all come as a surprise to some of you and some of you may not be surprised at all, but either way I am so sick of hiding this about me and couldn't hide it any longer. I just hope that you can all give me a chance to prove to you that nothing about me has changed from this. Sexuality doesn't determine the way somebody is, it's simply just a characteristic like having humor or beauty.
Also if you are a gay athlete struggling with your sexuality don't hesitate to text me and talk about it, just know that there really is support out there for you! #BeTrue
Thank you and Goodnight,