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This email is all you need to understand why athletes coming out publicly is key to change

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"With each article I read on your site, I slowly started to realize a pattern - male athletes so consumed by fear and then overcome with relief at the positive reaction to revealing their sexuality."

Al Bello/Getty Images

In recent months we at Outsports have received an increasing number of emails from readers saying that reading the stories of brave LGBT athletes on our site helped them come out. It's why we have been beating the drum of "the domino effect" more and more recently. Speeches and "allies" are helpful, and they certainly don't hurt, but the most powerful change-agent we have in the LGBT sports movement is people in sports coming out. Period.

The sports world has already changed dramatically like so much of American culture - now we need people coming out to demonstrate that to every generation and finally stop the "sports as institutionalized homophobia" cliché that is desperately out of touch with reality. And where there are lingering pockets of deep homophobia, we need even braver LGBT athletes and coaches to turn the conversation upside down.

This reader from New York State has watched the same pattern we've witnessed. No matter what people were telling him about coming out, it was watching other people like him do it and be accepted that changed his life. For the better.

I don't consider myself a typical athlete, but I'm a frequent Outsports.com visitor. I'm also bisexual and I just came out to my parents this weekend. While my friends and boyfriend told me coming out to them would go fine, it was really your website that made me believe it was possible.

With each article I read on your site, I slowly started to realize a pattern - male athletes so consumed by fear and then overcome with relief at the positive reaction to revealing their sexuality. I decided that if teenage athletes in the most conservative parts of the country could be brave enough to show the world their true self - at nearly 30, why can't I?

My parent's reaction went beyond well. I just wanted to share my story and say keep up the good work. When I think of my personal story, about coming out and this whole journey, the work you do and the stories you've helped tell will always come to mind.

If you'd like to tell your coming-out story in sports, please contact Jim Buzinski or Cyd Zeigler. You will help someone else with your story.