We talk so much about the need for straight people in sports - coaches, executives, athletes - to accept their LGBT colleagues. Yet precious little conversation goes to the continuing need to help these LGBT people in sports accept themselves.
That's the underlying message of a fantastic column by Daily Orange senior staff writer Sam Blum, who ended his career writing about sports for the Syracuse Univ. paper today by talking about his struggles being gay. In fact, this was the first time he has written publicly about being gay and is the first time most people outside of his closest circle have heard about his sexual orientation.
In particular, Blum wrote about his continued battle with his own inner demons even while the rest of the world seems cool with it.
It's supposed to be easy now. It's no longer weird and people don't judge you. The Supreme Court said gay people could get married, everyone changed their profile picture on Facebook for a day and it became normal, maybe even mainstream. I wish I was one of those people who could blindly bandwagon with the rest. But seeing the celebration of others only adds to the torture because it reminds me of a feeling I don't think I can have. I'm a part of a community that I don't feel like I fit into.
There are so many success stories about people being themselves. It gets better, I've heard. It might not be a secret anymore, but it's still a struggle. It was before I wrote this and will be after.
I know it took me a while to completely accept myself as a gay man. Years of torment by religious and political leaders, anti-gay messages from coaches and teammates, and even off-color comments by family members took their toll year after year.
What helped me tremendously was quickly finding a community with whom I felt I could be my complete self. That's why we have focused at Outsports on building that community of out LGBT people in sports. It's why we're inviting them all to join us for an Outsports gathering this June in Chicago.
And it's why I just want to give Blum a big hug and get everyone in our growing community to do the same. If you have a minute, maybe you could say hi to Sam Blum. It may not help. But maybe, just maybe, it will. He's on Facebook, and he's also on Twitter @SamBlum3. You can also email him at firstname.lastname@example.org. After graduation this spring, he'll be covering the Tampa Bay Rays for MLB.com.
Blum wrote that he's heard that "it gets better." Gosh it does. It gets so much better.