A gay college soccer player at Montclair State University in New Jersey is the subject of a lovely new short film about life as, well, a gay college soccer player.
The short, titled “Free To Be Who I Am,” visits with Ian Johnson, a defender on the men’s soccer team at the school. The film is directed by filmmaker and fellow Montclair student Kylie Mocarski.
In the film, Johnson and a teammate talk about the non-news aspect of having a gay player on a college sports team.
“Life has changed drastically since I first came out,” Johnson says in the short film. “All of my friends can attest that I’ve been a completely different person. I’ve been more confident, I’ve been more outgoing. My family even talks about it, they’re like, ‘Oh my god what’s gotten into you?’ And I’m like, ‘I don’t know, I’m just... different.’
They also talk about the team’s embrace — and occasional playfully rolled eyes — of Johnson’s propensity to break into what some might consider stereotypical “gay” behavior.
“I think being a gay athlete is special,” Johnson says, “because I can have my gay side, and I like having both. Sometimes I can’t control my gay side and it comes out at practice.”
Johnson will be a junior with the team next year.
Johnson told Outsports the reaction to the video has been overwhelmingly positive and far-reaching.
“I posted a little bit of the video on Instagram last night and it got amazing reactions from old soccer coaches, teachers and even from people I went to high school with that I haven’t talked to in years.”
Johnson said he’s heard from people he’s never met, and that people say his story inspires them to be their true selves.
“I’m feeling all the love in the world right now, and it definitely makes up for the 18 years that I hid who I truly was because of the fear of being judged.”
You can follow Ian Johnson on Instagram @ianjohnson9 or on Twitter @irjohnson9.