The 2020 NCAA Diversity and Inclusion Social Media Campaign kicked off Tuesday with dozens of athletes in dozens of sports sharing why their stories matter. Among them are a gay swimmer, a queer swimmer, a bisexual lacrosse player and an out softball player.

“As a gay athlete my story matters because when I was in the closet, the people who were out and proud gave me courage and strength to be myself,” said Robbie Daugherty, a junior swimmer for the Willamette University Bearcats in Oregon, in one of the videos posted on Twitter with the hashtag #NCAAInclusion.

“And on top of that, the Willamette swim team gave me a place where I could unapologetically be myself and they gave me a place where they showed I could love myself regardless of what other people thought. My story matters because I’m not just a student athlete and I am more than that.”

Another Willamette swimmer, Alika Masei a 2017 graduate who identifies as queer, shared his story.

“I am a queer person of color and former swimmer at Willamette University,” Masei said. “My experience in athletics was not always positive due to my identities, but it was by being present that I could build a culture of inclusion on my team.

“My story matters because a place is only as good as its people, so to all the underrepresented people out there I want to remind you that you belong in athletics. Your voice, your energy are what will allow you and your teammates to thrive.”

I was able to find two other LGBTQ athletes also shared their stories in tweets, but did not record videos, Therese Pitman, a bisexual lacrosse player from the University of Pittsburgh, and Emma Hoffart, a softball player at Missouri Western State University.

The variety of the My Story Matters posts from students commenting on their race, gender, religion, country of origin and how that shaped them is impressive and shows the breadth of experiences lived by college athletes.

If there are any LGBTQ athletes whose stories we missed, please drop us a line ([email protected]) or send us a direct message on Twitter.

(Check out our archive of coming out stories).