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For gay high school lacrosse player, coming out meant keeping a promise

Madison Harris, a high school lacrosse player, promised herself to come out to stay true to who she was.

Madison Harris

The anxiety and pressure leading up to this moment had my heart beating out of my chest. I promised myself that I’d tell him before we got home and, although I was reluctant and had second thoughts, breaking that promise wasn’t an option.

I knew that coming out was going to open a new door for me, one that would lead me to happiness and allow me to genuinely be myself. After three years of carrying the immense weight of pretending to be someone else, I knew I had to let myself breathe.

As my dad and I pulled into my neighborhood in Scottsdale, Arizona, in 2017, my hands got shaky and goosebumps ran along my skin. I felt sick to my stomach, but breaking that promise wasn’t an option.

Tears were streaming down my face as I looked at my dad and choked on the words, “I like girls.” My dad couldn’t have reacted better, although in this moment I wasn’t looking for any specific reaction.

He pulled the car over and with tears streaming down his face he said he loved me. He hugged me across the center console and nothing could hold him back, not even the seatbelt that was tangled up with us. I was so happy and was finally becoming reacquainted with the feeling of freedom that I hadn’t felt in so long.

Now, a year from the day I came out, I am the happiest I’ve ever been. Not too soon after I told my dad, news got around to my family and I eventually started coming out to most of my friends and lacrosse teammates. In the last year, I’ve achieved a lot and I believe coming out has helped me through all of it.

In February of my junior year I was nominated as a co-captain for my school’s varsity women’s lacrosse team by my teammates. This was after a year of not being on the field and in physical therapy due to an ACL tear. I was so incredibly excited to have been given this position and I was determined to be someone whom my teammates could look up to.

After months of hard work and numerous nights of team bonding, I had let myself completely open up and let my teammates get to know me. We’d eventually go on to be Arizona’s 2018 undefeated state champions.

Madison Harris and her dad.

The group of girls on this team made me feel so comfortable and loved. At the end of the season I would also win the “Heart and Hustle” award. In May, it was time to try out for the Arizona women’s traveling lacrosse team. I was nervous about what my results would be, but I made the team along with some of my best friends. Later, I secured a spot as co- captain. We would travel to Long Island, New York, and play the best athletes from every state.

After five hard-fought games, we placed third in our division and I was extremely proud. In June, I got an offer to play Division II lacrosse for my dream school, the University of Tampa. Knowing Tampa has everything I wanted, I committed only a few days later. The other commits and I meshed right away and we’ve been very close since.

I cannot wait to see what the future holds for us. I’m proud to say I’ve achieved all my goals, grown closer with everyone around me and have gotten to know my true self. Although being in the closet was comfortable, it was no place for me. I needed to be who I really am and be an example for others.

I hope my coming out story helps inspire others to make their own promises, big or small, and to never break them. Not breaking that promise has lead me to living a much happier life where I have learned how to love myself as well as others.

Coming out and feeling the emotions I did is something I hope one day people won’t have to do, but for now we can live with confidence, bravery and our promises.

Madison Harris, 18, currently attends Chaparral High School and is committed to University of Tampa where she plans to play Division II lacrosse and study film and media. She can be reached at madharris28@icloud.com or on Twitter or Instagram.

Story editor: Jim Buzinski