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LGBT athletes still coming out in huge numbers in the ‘Trump era’

Athletes are accustomed to showing courage.

Trump Holds Campaign Event In West Palm Beach, Florida
Donald Trump previously had mixed words for Michael Sam, saying he hoped the then-player did well in the NFL but also questioning how much ESPN showed him kissing his then-boyfriend.
Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images

When Donald Trump won the Presidency last November, we heard from various people that our coming-out stories would quickly dry up as people became more afraid to come out publicly. While Trump represented the most pro-LGBT Republican nominee ever (which, of course, isn’t saying too much), many of his staunchest supporters and surrogates did not. Some of them have since been given Cabinet positions.

The LGBT community’s reaction to the Trump Administration has been filled with skepticism and fear.

Despite that, the coming-out stories we have at Outsports have done anything but dry up. They are blossoming in the “era of Trump.”

We are currently working on about four dozen articles, at various stages, of LGBT athletes, coaches and other people in sports looking to share their true selves and inspire others to do so.

Beyond the stories we run, athletes around the world have felt compelled by comfort to simply be themselves publicly. When WNBA player Erin Phillips won the equivalent of the AFL MVP Award, she had her wife on her arm (same-sex marriage is still illegal in Australia). When South Carolina advanced to the Women’s Final Four, assistant coach Melanie Balcomb didn’t shy away from coming out publicly and talking about homophobia in women’s sports. Heading into another big year covering the Grand Slams and major tournaments, Nick McCarvel didn’t want to do it again without the world knowing exactly who he was.

None of this should be a surprise, really. LGBT athletes and people in sports have been showing courage in the face of fear for decades. Sports have long been branded as anti-LGBT, the last holdout of rampant homophobia in our culture, a place still too dangerous to come out. Every person in sports who comes out has faced the fear of sports homophobia — And the vast majority have shown the inclusive face of sports.

With every story an athlete or coach shares on Outsports, or elsewhere, they open the possibility for other people to do the same. So much of the fear holding LGBT people back is the fear of the unknown. Will my teammates accept me? Will my coach reduce my playing time? Trans athletes also face potentially very real policy battles for participation.

Each person who comes out is, as we’ve said many times, another domino falling — part the result of someone inspiring their courage, and part the reason for someone else to follow suit.

There will be caution and questions in the coming years about where our Federal policies will go in terms of protecting LGBT people from discrimination. What we can say with confidence today is that the trajectory of sports — people coming out across the landscape and finding acceptance from teammates, coaches and fans — is in the strong hands of these brave LGBT people coming out every day.

Who controls the Federal government won’t change that.

If you have an interest in sharing your coming-out story on Outsports, click here.