Being Out is a feature that looks at LGBTQ people in sports who have come out since Outsports first published in 1999. Today: Track and field athlete Kaitlyn Long.
Kaitlyn Long had a successful collegiate career, winning one Division I and two Division II titles in the weight throw. At the same time, she had a blossoming awareness and acceptance of being bisexual, rewards that were more personal and just as important.
“I was always afraid that by telling people that they would assume the typical stereotypical things about bisexual people — that they’re split 50/50 for each gender; or that it’s just a college phase; or if I’m dating of the same gender I’m gay, whereas if I’m dating someone of the opposite gender at that time I’m straight,” Long wrote in her coming out story for Outsports.
“Having a supportive community and working on starting the LGBTQ club at my school has opened my eyes a lot. God made us in His image and I can be confident in who I am. Since coming out, my faith and my performance have never been stronger. For the first time, I feel like I’m being completely and authentically me.”
Long graduated this spring from the University of Minnesota, but she left her mark by helping to start a student group of LGBTQ athletes and allies. Her long-term goal is a career in the criminal justice field.
Here are Long’s responses to our Being Out questions:
What do you love the most about track and field?
One of my favorite things about track and field is that it’s both a team sport and an individual sport. The dynamic has always pushed me hard to get better individually for myself as well as for my team.
I also loved my teammates at the University of Minnesota because not only were they some of the most talented athletes I ever met, but we also had fun and joked around at practice while at the same time putting in the hard work.
What does it personally mean to you to be LGBTQ+ in sports?
For me, it means a lot to be a bisexual athlete in sports . Looking back at who I was five years ago when I started college, I’ve grown a lot athletically and with my confidence in my sexuality. I hope people hear my story and know that it’s OK to be who you are and that your sexual orientation has nothing to do with your potential as an athlete.
What advice would you give to LGBTQ+ kids in athletics or who want to participate in athletics, the kind of advice the younger you wish you had heard?
Coming out is a difficult process and it takes time and courage, but be confident in who you are and your athletic abilities and be an advocate for the LGBTQ+ community. A lot of people look up to you and you could make a big difference.
Who is someone that inspires you?
A person who inspires me is my close friend and Minnesota teammate Dawson LaRance. I got close with him this past year as we worked together to start a student-athlete group called Gopher Advocates and Allies, which is a group for LGBTQ+ athletes and supporters.
He’s one of my role models because it took a lot of initiative and courage for him to have the idea to start the group and working with him to start the group helped me a lot coming to terms with my own sexuality.
What are you passionate about right now?
Right now I’m focusing on furthering my education and making steps toward my long term goal of working in criminal law. I’m also saving up money to travel and see the world.
What is your most memorable sports moment?
My most memorable sports moment was winning a Division I national championship during my first year of competing for University of Minnesota.
After winning two national championships in Division II and transferring to Division I, I wasn’t sure what to expect with competing at a higher level. My goal was to train hard and place first at indoor nationals my senior year, so when I did so it was a huge accomplishment for me.
It felt like all the hard training I had that year had been validated and to win in one of the toughest competitions in the history of my event made it even more awarding.
Kaitlyn Long is a Cottage Grove, Wisconsin, native and a recent graduate of University of Minnesota. She received her BA in psychology and participated on the Division 1 Track and Field program as a weight and hammer thrower.
If you are out in sports in any capacity as openly LGBTQ and want to be featured in Being Out, drop Jim an email (email@example.com).