I woke up on March 14 to a weird, confident feeling. I wanted to come out to the world as gay over social media because I thought it was the right time.

I thought that this would be easy, but I was wrong. I opened up Twitter and started typing. I paced around my room for about 30 minutes trying to find a way to say what I wanted to say. “My big moment is here. I’m gay. Thank you for the love and support from my friends and family.”

For another 30 minutes, I paced around, uncertain if I should send the tweet. I suddenly got a burst of confidence and hit the tweet button. I threw my phone on the bed thinking that no one would see the post and I could go on with my day.

I came back from taking a shower and my whole life changed. I had 15 notifications from Twitter and a missed Facetime call from my friend. I call him back and the first words he said were, “I am so proud of you. Are you going to post that on Instagram too?”

I took his advice, opened up Instagram, posted a picture with the same caption and waited to see if any players from my college baseball team liked the post. I instantly got 100 likes within 20 minutes and most of them were my teammates. I was thinking to myself, “Well maybe since they liked it they are OK with it, right?” I was so right about that.

I was originally thinking that my life of playing college baseball would be over if I came out. I love baseball with all my heart and I wouldn’t want to play a sport where I did not feel accepted for who I am. I was very happy and very proud of the way that the team handled it.

I was in major panic when I first posted it. Coming out is a big deal for me, and I just wanted my baseball team to know the truth. It was time for me to come out so I could live my life without the heavy secret that held me down daily. As soon as the texts from the guys on the team came rolling in, I was nervous to open them. Then I got messages like this:

“We got your back brotha, we’re so proud of you.”

“Proud of you bro!”

“If you have a problem with anyone on the team, let me know and we’ll handle it.”

With that, all the years of anxiety and stress over being gay disappeared, but it was a long journey of self-acceptance.

Prior to my public coming out, I struggled with being gay for years, with many long nights and anxiety to get where I am today.

When I started my freshman year at Felician University, a private Division II Roman Catholic school in New Jersey, I assumed I needed to act a certain way because I was on a collegiate baseball team. I normally made friends mostly with girls and tended not to hang out with the guys too much.

When I did this in college, my teammates seemed confused. They were very nice and friendly but asked me direct questions such as, “do you like boys?” or “are you gay?” I would always reply with, “No, why?” Then they would tell me it’s because of the way I acted. I was very confused with that statement because I thought I acted like every other guy, but to them I was not the “typical guy.”

As a junior, I decided to become a “normal” guy who would go to school, attend baseball practice and then go back to my room. I started to notice that my anxiety level would go up significantly when people on the baseball team would talk about relationships because I was afraid that they would ask me about mine. During cold nights in October, I would go for walks in the middle of the night.

During these walks, I would cry and sometimes break down because I did not know how to live with myself being gay. After a couple weeks of this, I thought I should first admit it to myself. I would look long and hard in the mirror and try to say the words, “I’m gay,” but nothing would come out. Trying this just made me break down even more. I was starting to think that I couldn’t do this and my secret would be kept with me forever.

After months of overthinking, breakdowns and emotional rollercoasters, I decided to be true to myself and admit that I was gay. To help make the pain go away, I decided to tell my best friend. I brought her to my room and we talked about life. My heart was beating out of my chest and I got so nervous. I kept saying, “I need to tell you something, but not this second. I need a moment.” She was very patient with me.

As I started to get more and more nervous, I just yelled it out: “I wanted to tell you that I was gay. I hope you don’t change the way you think of me.” She screamed with happiness and hugged me saying, “You’ll be my friend no matter what!”

I felt instant relief and the pain in my chest just went away. I told other friends over the course of a couple months and then my parents. My parents’ only concern was that they wanted me to wait to tell the baseball team. “The baseball team is full of masculine men and you never know how they’re going to take it. I hope they all have an open mind like we do,” said my dad. “I just don’t want you to regret anything, that’s all.” Then March 14 came and I decided to tell the world.

I felt like I had the weight of the world lifted off of my shoulders and that I could be who I am without any judgment.

After I posted my coming out message and got only positive reactions, I was filled with joy when I heard that the baseball team had my back. I felt like I had the weight of the world lifted off of my shoulders and that I could be who I am without any judgment.

The next day at practice, everyone seemed to have a higher respect for me. I was getting a lot of “proud of you” and “I am very happy for you” comments from my teammates.

Baseball is one of the most important things to me. Baseball makes me feel like I can use my talent rather than use anything else in me. I did not want baseball to change for me after I came out to my teammates. Since my coming out, the team has been very understanding and I feel as if I can be myself without having any judgment from my teammates.

Being an openly gay baseball player makes me feel like an inspiration to anyone who is going through what I went through. There will be ups and downs and you will have bad and good days, but in the end, be true to yourself.

Being gay on a men’s sports team can be very hard, but now I can actually be who I want to be and love who I want to love. To all the gay male athletes out there, trust me, coming out to your team is worth it.

Michael Holland, 20, is in the 2020 class of Felician University where he majors in Social and Behavioral Sciences and is a member of the men’s baseball team. He can be reached at [email protected], on Instagram: mholland612 or Twitter: mholland612

Story editor: Jim Buzinski