It’s so crazy to think that it has already been a year since coming out to my mom live on TLC’s “This Is Life Live.”

It has been a crazy but amazing year. I am truly the happiest I have ever been in my life. Not having to hide this part of my life and just being able to live without second guessing what I do, say or wear is such a liberating feeling.

I got to work with the Trevor Project and present at their annual Trevor Live event in New York City. I’m also involved with One N Ten, which is a local youth LGBT Center here in Phoenix.

Since coming out I joined a gay softball team based out of Phoenix, and we play all over the country. I decided to retire from my baseball career overseas because I wanted to take advantage of a great opportunity I had to start a working career back home in Phoenix. The softball team I play on now is from Phoenix, so it was an easy pick.

I had to make sure I was competing in some sport during my free time. Since I’ve been an athlete my whole life it would have been too hard to just cut sports out of my life completely.

The only difference I’ve noticed between a “straight” team and a “gay” team is internally. Both groups of guys love the game just as much as the other, and they love to win. But for me, being able to compete honestly and authentically as myself is something special.

The amount of messages of love and support I received from the people who viewed the show or watched on YouTube has been so overwhelming in the best way.

Each story I receive via email and social media from athletes and non-athletes who are still in the closet or who have recently come out humbles me every single time. Those people are the reason I chose to share my personal story, to be able to help the next person tell theirs.

A lot has changed in my life in one year but I’m still the same Ryan that I always have been, I’m just more of me now.

You can follow Ryan Jordan Santana on Instagram @ryanjordansantana.

Ryan Jordan Santana (back row, fourth from left) has found a home in gay softball.
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