Lauryn Hutchinson, who plays for the Trinidad & Tobago women’s national soccer team, shared part of her experiences as an out athlete for Pride Week at her alma mater, Virginia Commonwealth University.
Hutchinson spoke glowingly about the environment for LGBT athletes at VCU, saying she was surprised by the support she encountered on campus and in the Rams athletic community.
“My coaches, the staff here, my teammates, they didn't care who I was and who I really wanted to be. The Richmond community allowed me to be the woman that I wanted to be and be confident in my skin.
“When I arrived on campus I was really shocked by how open people were. There was a situation in the lunch room where someone really got me out of my comfort zone and openly talked about being a gay woman. And I was so nervous because I was never in a situation where no one cared.”
Hutchinson, who grew up in the Washington, D.C., area, has played on the women’s national team for Trinidad and Tobago since 2011.
The small Caribbean nation of 1.4 million people offers virtually no protections for LGBT people: Sex people two people of the same sex is illegal, same-sex marriage is prohibited and sexual orientation is not a protected class in employment or other areas.
All of this makes it even more special that Hutchinson is representing the country and has come out so publicly.
“The first time I want to Trinidad & Tobago was when I was 19 years old, and at the time I was not aware that acting on homosexuality was illegal,” Hutchinson told Outsports. “Coming from Richmond, Virginia, I was in a culture that didn’t care about my sexual preference. What I love about Trinidad & Tobago is the want and drive for change and greatness. Not once have I had a problem with being a ‘gay woman’ in sport.”