Being Out is a feature that looks at LGBTQ people in sports who have come out since Outsports first published in 1999. Today: Soccer player Christopher Malpartida.
Every time I come out to someone new it makes me think how much more progress that needs to be done.
As I am writing this piece, the Louisville metro city council voted to ban conversion therapy. All of the council members except one voted to ban the practice. This is progress, but to have that one council member voting to keep the practice is scary. It reminds me to keep living my life authentically and empowering others who may be scared to share their story but are just not sure when or how to do that.
It’s been a little over a year since my coming out article was published. I received many messages, emails and had many conversations with people about it — what prompted me to write it? What did my friends and family think of it? Did I sever any relationships because of my sexuality?
These are common questions one should expect when they come out. I remember one of my classmates in undergrad told me that when he came out it never really stopped, and I never really understood what he meant until a little over a year passed since I came out to my family.
I still find myself coming out to family who don’t have social media, people who I form relationships with professionally, people I meet at the tennis courts and start conversations with. All it takes is two simple questions like, “Are you single?” and “How long have you and your girlfriend been together?” This happens to me a handful of times every week or so, especially since starting law school in August.
I’m a follower of Outsports because it does the very thing I try do to on a smaller scale: empower and share. Without finding Outsports I probably would not have written my coming out article. I find myself writing this piece in hopes that it sparks someone’s journey to help others.
Before my article was published, I did not think I could be a catalyst for change. I realize now that everyone is capable of being that catalyst in their communities. What I have learned from others worrying about where our country is currently is that we worry because we care. We care about the future of our country and more specifically, I have the feeling we care about how we leave the country to others when we are no longer here.
We fear what we don’t recognize. We fear what we can’t control. These last four years have shed light on issues that were invisible to most people, and I am thankful that there has been a light to show us how we can grow from what we’re experiencing today. It is now time for us continue the fight for change.
I believe that our country is on the brink of another evolution of our society’s culture and it requires us to help make that change by implementing some type of change in our local communities. Just like what I did with my first article over a year ago, I hope to do the same now: implement change somehow.
Here are my answers to Outsports’ Being Out questions:
What do you love the most about tennis and soccer?
What I love most about tennis is the ability I have to dictate the pace of the match, something I’m not able to do in soccer. What I love most about soccer is seeing the set-up of a goal happen right in front of you — knowing the one little play that started it all and seeing it end. Really different things from each sport
What does it personally mean to you to be LGBTQ+ in sports?
Back in my early playing days, there were not a lot of publicly out LGBTQ+ athletes at different levels of sports. The only ones that I knew of as a kid were famous and on television. Today we see a lot of LGBTQ+ athletes in all types of communities all over the country.
Since my article was released last summer, I have had other athletes approach me and ask for advice on how to come out as I shared my coming out experience with them. To be able to help those people has really made me proud of being public with my story. It is exactly the impact I wanted to see when my coming out story was released.
What advice would you give to your younger self?
The advice would be to get out of my comfort zone more and not be so hard on myself. I kick myself sometimes when I think back about the opportunities I turned down because I was too scared to branch out — scared of the unknown. The pressure of being good at what I was doing at the time hindered me from doing other things. Of course, whatever I did then has led me to what I am doing now and have done the last handful of years, so I guess I did something right!
Who is someone that inspires you?
From an athlete’s perspective, Serena Williams inspires me. Even when I am working out, I’ll play a Serena highlight reel in the background because seeing the passion she plays with makes me want to perform better. She is a mom in her late 30s beating young athletes every day. She is the best competitor in sports — the GOAT! From a personal perspective, my parents always inspire me. They came to this country with nothing and have exceeded society’s expectations of them. I hope to continue making them proud.
What are you passionate/excited about?
What I am most excited about right now is starting law school. I am attending Brandeis School of Law at the University of Louisville. It is going to be very tough, but I am confident in my skills. It’s such a great feeling knowing that I am finally able to start this journey. I’ve been working towards it since high school and now the results are beginning to unfold.
What is your most memorable sports moment?
My most memorable sports moment is my senior night for tennis. Due to the current pandemic, the college I graduated from was one of the first to close in the country in early March. That meant that I had to have my senior night with just my teammates and coaches during our last practice, which was pretty intimate. I cried so much that whole week.
There were so many goodbyes that had to be said in a span of just a few days. Getting to put on my uniform one more time as an NCAA athlete and teammate to my friends on the team was bittersweet. I’ll forever and always hold my tennis family and our memories close to my heart.
Christopher Malpartida is a graduate of Berea College and is now attending the Brandeis School of Law. He can be reached via Instagram and email (firstname.lastname@example.org).
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).
If you’re an LGBTQ person in sports looking to connect with others in the community, head over to GO! Space to meet and interact with other LGBTQ athletes, or to Equality Coaching Alliance to find other coaches, administrators and other non-athletes in sports.