In the fall of 2011, I decided it was time to come out. I figured my older sister, whom I was living with at the time, would be an easy opener.
By the time I mustered up enough courage to tell her, she had a secret of her own. We were painting the guest room of her house in Louisiana, and I could tell something was wrong so I prodded and she started.
“Can you keep a secret?” she asked.
“I’ll keep yours if you keep mine,” I responded with a cheeky smirk.
Her face grew inquisitive, and she smiled.
She said, “I’m pregnant.” She was not married.
I responded, “I’m gay.”
It was the first time either of us had said our secrets aloud to anyone. There were tears and questions from both sides. We consoled each other, but what I remember most was my joke to help ease the awkwardness.
“Middle children really are the worst, huh?” I said. We have an older sister and younger brother who can do no wrong.
This is where it takes a turn for the worse and what I want to accomplish with my story. And this is the harsh truth for some people — if you want to live honestly and authentically, you have to be willing to lose or risk losing people — even family.
However, it’s not your loss, it’s theirs.
Eventually, my family found out and there was drama.
Of course, they threw the Bible at me and compared being gay to being a murderer (insert eye roll). Living openly significantly strained my relationships with my parents and other siblings.
When my fiancé, Cody Christopher, and I tied the knot in 2017 only one immediate family member decided to attend — my sister. I had some extended family come as well, including my great aunt, a nun, and she raved about our ceremony. I was lucky enough to marry a wonderful guy. We made it a destination wedding in New Orleans. We were married in Audubon Park under the Tree of Life on a gorgeous day.
Growing up in Alabama, I didn’t share many of the state’s conservative views and certainly never dreamed that one day I would marry a man.
I grew up Baptist and that meant Vacation Bible School, Sunday school, retreats, youth group and church league basketball, which I genuinely enjoyed and was surprisingly competitive.
From middle school through college, running is where I focused my energy instead of that other thing that was eating at me.
Running for me, and most people, is a great escape. It’s a time to get lost in my thoughts and relieve the stresses of school, work, or life. Especially now that I’m old and past my prime and in a good place, but in high school and college, it was where I showed my “masculinity” (despite the short shorts) and will to compete and win.
In 2007, I was lucky enough to accept an athletic scholarship to a small D1 school in Alabama, but after a semester I knew it wasn’t where I wanted to be.
The next year, I transferred and walked-on to compete for the school of my dreams during my final three years. I went to the place that I falsely claim to be home — Baton Rouge and LSU.
Through college, I was still struggling with my truth, trying my hardest to turn myself straight or “pray it away.” My faith was — and still is — a big part of my life.
I thought becoming a leader of the Fellowship of Christian Athletes (FCA) and dating one of the female athletes would surely be the cure.
Guess what. It wasn’t.
I often wanted to come out during college to see if I could change the hearts of people around me by breaking the mold of what my teammates and friends thought gay people were. I also thought so many people would think that I was a hypocrite because you can’t be gay and a Christian.
But not coming out in college was more of a conscious decision. For one, I knew it wasn’t time yet, and two, I didn’t want it to be some big announcement and big deal.
I still haven’t told teammates and friends after college, but I felt like if they found out, that’s fine, and if they don’t want to be my friend, then good riddance. It’s not like my teammates and friends thought I was this “manly man,” but I do think I was seen by teammates, and other LSU athletes, as a natural athlete.
In FCA, we had game nights where we played a game called Tigerball. It’s a mix between soccer, fast break basketball and ultimate Frisbee. It’s fast and physical.
This game brought out some of the best athletes at LSU from football to baseball to soccer and everything in between. One night, I played against Odell Beckham Jr. and Jarvis Landry, both now star NFL wide receivers.
At the end of the night, Jarvis walked up to me and said, “I really like how you play the game, man.”
Whoa, Jarvis Landry? That’s cool — a big time football player admiring the game and abilities of a secretly gay cross-country runner. Crazy.
My biggest goal while competing for LSU cross country and track was on the big red oval — making the track travel team and running at the SEC Outdoor Championships. At a place like LSU, you have a team of 60ish, but only about 30 travel and get to compete each week.
On the track, my specialty was the 1,500 or mile (indoor). However, on occasion I would also run the 3K (indoor) or 5K (outdoor).
Spring semester of 2011, my senior year, I earned a travel spot to compete at places like the Armory in New York, the Penn Relays in Philadelphia, a spring break trip to University of Miami, and SECs — Indoor and Outdoor. At SECs, I competed in the mile (indoor) and 1,500 and 5K (outdoor).
After graduation and coming out, I knew moving back to my parents’ was not an option for me. I took as many part-time and odd jobs as I could to stay in Baton Rouge.
I dated a bit and put myself out there as much as I could. Eventually, I met my husband-to-be on a dating site. He lived in St. Louis, Missouri, and we dated long distance for a year before I moved up.
These days, we’re still living in St. Louis with two precious cats in our first home. I’m still running for fun and participate in some local 5K’s or half marathons when I want to be competitive.
So yes, it does get better, but you have to be stubborn and strong-willed. And as I tell my husband, “You should go for a run, it fixes everything.”
Tim Landry, 29, is a graduate of Louisiana State University where he majored in Sports Administration as a three-time letterman of the track and cross-country teams. He can be reached at email@example.com or Facebook: timjlandry or Instagram: timothyjlandry.
Story editor: Jim Buzinski