When University of Nebraska track and field athlete Jace Anderson found himself alone on a balcony at a campus party last year with three football players he described as “gigantic human beings,” he was nervous. He became even more nervous when one of the players asked him indirectly if he was gay.
Anderson, 20, was just coming to terms with his sexual orientation and slowly telling people around him. But he wasn’t expecting to have to answer the question from three football players he assumed would have a problem with his being gay.
“There's been a lot of conversation that you swing for the other team,” one player asked him, and Anderson knew what he meant.
“Yes,” Anderson replied warily.
“We just want to let you know we think that's awesome and commend you for not denying it,” the player said. “You don't really hear about that many openly gay athletes here and we think that's awesome.”
“And they each gave me a hug since they could still tell I was uncomfortable about the whole thing and I was obviously nervous and that they knew caught me off guard,” Anderson said. “And that whole interaction just blows my mind. They were the last people I thought would have confronted me on that and been so welcoming. They're just cool people.”
The anecdote is recounted in Anderson’s terrific coming out video, “Coming Out as a Gay Athlete,” he released last week on YouTube.
Anderson competes in the triple jump and long jump for the Cornhuskers and talks about the struggles of accepting himself and how stress negatively affected his performance. Things started to look up when his coach recommended therapy and when Anderson started coming out to more people. He then had an epiphany.
“I started to realize that nobody cared that I was gay other than myself. The biggest person that feared it was myself,” he said.
Anderson is promising more videos detailing his coming out. I loved the story about the football players because it upends stereotypes and shows that gay acceptance is more and more common on campuses.