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7 inspiring athlete coming out stories to read while you’re socially isolating

With many people practicing social distancing and staying at home, these stories of out people in sports will help inspire you.

Openly gay high school hockey player Anthony Arnoni was his school’s homecoming king.
Sophia Khudyk

With the coronavirus spreading throughout the U.S. and much of the world, people are being asked to practice social distancing and stay home as much as possible in an attempt to slow the rate of transmission.

While it sucks to not be able to go to the gym (every gay guy’s lament), isolating ourselves is vital if we can slow the spread of COVID-19. If you want to take a break from playing with your pet or binge-watching Netflix we are compiling inspiring moments from our coming out stories of LGBTQ people in sports.

These stories are universal in their message but unique in their circumstances.

The only out athlete at BYU

Emma Gee, a track athlete, shared her journey growing up in a Mormon culture.

Excerpt:

I am the only out LGBTQ athlete at BYU.

I’m in unfamiliar territory in a hard environment.

Coming out has proven difficult, confusing, awful, heartbreaking and wonderfully liberating.

As I try to find my place in the world and my place in me, there are a few things I know.

I’m not alone.

I can openly acknowledge how I experience the world.

I’ve found power in vulnerability.

The weight is gone.

I trust myself.

I’m free.

Read her story

A football team with an out linebacker wears Pride stickers

Jack Storrs was the leading tackler for the Pomona-Pitzer football team and one of its captains. For National Coming Out Day, his teammates wore Pride stickers on their helmets and never took them off.

Honzo Smilek and Bryan Bishop

Excerpt:

Other captains and I were meeting with our football coaching staff to discuss wearing Pride-ribbon stickers on our helmets during National Coming Out Day, something all other fall sports at my school had decided to participate in.

“We’re doing this and that’s that,” one other captain said. “Not just for Jack, but for everyone else out there. This is something that should be extremely important to us as football players and it’s our responsibility to change how LGBTQ athletes are seen and supported.”

The support and love I had gotten from all my Pomona-Pitzer team until that point had been incredible, yet this is something I’ll never forget.

They weren’t just supporting me, but all others out there who might be in a comparable situation and recognized that we have a responsibility to change the stigmas associated with being LGBTQ in sports. We consider each other family, and that means taking care of each other no matter what.

Read his story

An Olympic hopeful wants to inspire others

Excerpt:

Matthew Forgues grew up in a small Maine town and is now living his Olympic dream hoping to qualify for the Tokyo Olympics in racewalking.

Patrick Smith/Getty Images

Living your full, true, authentic self is important for so many reasons, but for me personally it helped me in my training immensely. I didn’t feel heavy in training, I was able to think clearly, breathe fully and felt connected and grounded to the track with each step.

Having an LGBT role model would have been a really positive thing in my career coming up but even now as I reflect back on my high school track career, I can’t think of anyone I looked up to that I share an identity with.

I choose to live visibly and proudly as an out gay athlete so that hopefully some kid struggling with their sexuality or gender identity in a tiny town will realize that they have a place in sport.

Read his story

An athlete whose faith keeps her going

Kaitlyn Long won collegiate national championships in weight throw and long struggled with her attraction to women until she decided to live her life on her terms.

Excerpt:

As it became clear that I was bisexual, I began to distance myself from religion. I didn’t like who I was and was terrified that I would be judged or misunderstood. The feeling of being out of place was familiar to me because of always being one of the only African Americans surrounded by white people, and I was scared to add bisexuality to my intersectionality. Despite all these feelings, I ended my sophomore year on a high note and won indoor nationals again. ...

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.

Read her story

He’s a hockey player and high school homecoming king

Anthony Arnoni felt alone in the closet in Illinois until a YouTube video helped change his life and lead to experiences he never would have imagined.

Excerpt:

Sophia Khudyk

The day that I posted on Instagram, March 24, I quickly found out that all of my friends had my back and continued to stick by my side no matter what. My teammates not only accepted me, but have been comfortable enough to carry on as if nothing had changed, which in reality, it didn’t.

Throughout this whole experience I was fortunate enough to not lose a single friend or even be degraded by a single person, in any way. I will forever be grateful for the friends and family that I have, who have made this experience an eye-opening and enlightening journey.

Being able to start this season as the out version of me has been extremely liberating. I have been able to walk in the locker room without worrying about putting on my fake face in order to fit in with the rest.

Read his story

They’re gay, married and coach the same college volleyball team

Coleman Lee and Garrett Case have found each other and their dream job coaching college volleyball in Missouri as an out, gay married couple. Lee was named his conference’s coach of the year this past season.

Excerpt:

We were lucky enough to find a community and a university that supports us in our success and embraces who we choose to love.

Our hope for anyone struggling with their sexuality is that they find a support system where they can flourish as an individual.

While we were both lucky to have families that were understanding and supportive, there are still people in the world who encourage uniqueness and diversity. Those are the people that we should surround ourselves with on a daily basis.

We hope that our story opens people’s eyes to the fact that there is no need to hide who you are. Instead, your journey and goal should be finding people, organizations or churches that base their judgment off of what you do and not who you love.

Read their story

Why flying the rainbow flag at sporting events is necessary

Queer journalist and fan Katelyn Best found belonging and meaning in soccer.

Excerpt:

Learning to accept yourself isn’t the type of thing you can do passively. You have to learn to be proud of it. You have to genuinely feel, deep in your guts, that the ways you’re different from most people aren’t just OK, but cool and good, and that for you, it’s better to be queer than not. That’s how you start to undo decades of internalized bullshit about the way you’re supposed to feel and talk and move through the world.

All queer people — every single last one of us, whether we come from San Francisco or Arkansas or Chechnya — we all have that internalized bullshit. It comes in varying degrees, certainly, and I don’t want to minimize the real-life danger and discrimination many LGBTQ people still face every day. But self-loathing is as universal an experience for queers as being on the receiving end of sexual harassment is for women.

I have a lot of people to thank for the long, still-ongoing process of learning to believe I’m good the way I am. A lot of it, though, has been soccer.

Read her story

Check out our archive of coming out stories

If you identify as LGBTQ in sports and want to share your story, drop us a line: kandreekY@gmail.com or direct message on Instragram