It was two years ago when Kamal-Craig Golaube uttered the words out loud for the first time: “Kamal, you’re gay.”
He didn’t immediately process what he was saying, so he tried again. This time, he said it with confidence.
“Kamal, you’re gay.”
The words had more impact. Golaube was about to begin his journey as an out queer Black man.
“I remember one of the things my mom told me was to always be confident in everything I say, and then I started to say those words again, and just felt a weight lifted off my shoulders,” Golaube told Outsports.
Today, Golaube is a leader at Colorado State University, where he’s a senior on the men’s track and field team. Golaube transferred to CSU from Portland State University two years ago, because he wanted to take his athletic career to the next level.
He’s done exactly that, placing three times in the Mountain West Outdoor Championships and once at an indoor meet as a hurdler. But recently, he’s started making an impact away from the track as well.
Golaube has become a strong voice on campus for inclusivity and social justice. He is the founder of CSU’s LGBTQ Athlete Ally group and member of the John Mosley Leadership Program, which brings together athletes of color on campus.
Earlier this fall, Golaube published a powerful essay on CSU’s athletics website, “Why I Won’t Stick To Sports.” In it, he writes about the importance of his intersecting identities, and how he plans to enact change.
“My voice matters, and there are other student-athletes within the department whose voices are still not being heard,” Golaube said. “This is the first step towards breaking that barrier.”
Early in Golaube’s college athletic career, he was solely focused on his performance. If it wasn’t happening on the track, he didn't care. But that singular obsession led him into an athletic depression. That’s when he saw a sports psychologist, and realized he needed to start speaking up.
Golaube began reaching out to organizations on campus, looking for way to get involved and amplify athletes’ voices.
“It stirred the pot for me, and I got more interested in how I could make this experience a lot better,” he said. “This is my experience. Whoever the coach is, or the athletic department staff, they’re not going through this journey. They’re here to be a resource to help me get to my fullest potential. That’s where it all started to click.”
It’s been a turbulent year for CSU’s athletics department, which hired an outside law firm to conduct an independent investigation into allegations of racial inequity and reports about the football program and other teams failing to comply with Covid safety protocols.
The firm finished its investigations earlier this month, publishing two reports. Both found most athletes who participated said they have not experienced racial bias in the athletic department and feel safe during team activities.
Still, the reports say “numerous individuals” expressed “some degree of dissatisfaction” with adherence to Covid protocols and “recounted racial insensitivity involving former coaches in years past and expressed concern that their behavior went unaddressed by Athletic Department leadership at that time.”
Golaube says the nationwide racial reckoning has caused him to reconsider his role at CSU.
“Colorado State is a predominately white institution,” he said. “They thrive off the minority groups. Being a Black student-athlete, it’s a way different experience from white folks. A lot of people have been very worried about what’s happening. I just wanted to use my voice and let them know why it’s important to stick up for what we believe in.”
It took Golaube some time to get to this place. He was a sophomore at Portland State and wasn’t feeling well. His schoolwork was suffering.
That feeling of listlessness propelled Golaube to sit down and just start writing how he felt. He wrote down the word “sexuality,” and was staring at it for a long time. He didn’t know how he identified.
Though Golaube told himself he was gay, he originally publicly identified as bisexual. He put his coming-out story in a Facebook post, before telling his parents. Historically, Golaube says Jamaican culture hasn’t been very accepting towards LGBTQ people.
“I was trying to protect myself, too,” he said.
A short while later, Golaube’s dad called him, and asked if he had something to say. Golaube told him everything was in the Facebook post. Then came the text.
His dad said he still loved him, but his mother was “going to blow up.” She was disappointed, but not because Golaube came out. It was because he didn’t tell her first.
But at the time, Golaube said he wanted to post on social media first. The experience was cathartic.
In just two years’ time, Golaube has evolved quite a bit. He says he prefers the word “queer,” because it encapsulates both his masculinity and femininity.
Golaube is unapologetically himself.
“It’s just been an amazing journey to see how free I am,” he said. “It’s been awesome. I don’t need to hide anything from myself, because I just express who I am. If another person doesn’t like that, you can screw off. It doesn’t matter.”
CSU’s Athlete Ally group already has roughly 12 members, with representatives from a variety of teams. Most of all, Golaube wants to bring LGBTQ athletes together. He’s learned there’s strength in numbers.
“I want to be remembered as somebody who took action, and somebody who encourages others to stand up for what they believe in, and not be so scared,” he said. “There are student-athletes who identify within the community, and it doesn’t matter who they identify as. They’re still here to do their sport, play their sport, and participate in their sport, and have the same experience as everybody else.”