Young sports reporter Lauren Rosenberg came on our radar at Outsports earlier this year, when she published an essay about being the first openly gay sports reporter at the University of Missouri’s legendary radio station, KCOU. In it, Rosenberg talks about her coming out journey, and how she would’ve “laughed in your face” if you told her she would be an out and proud sports journalist at this stage in her life.

On this weeks’ edition of “The Sports Kiki,” I spoke with Rosenberg about her time at KCOU, and how she navigated the challenges of covering big-time college athletics as an openly gay person. She says all of the athletes were respectful, and the station fostered an inclusive environment, especially when some of her newly converted straight allies laid down the rules to the rest of the staff.

“There were troubles with language. A lot of them were freshman at the time, so you know they’re coming from high school. They didn’t really learn,” she said. “Some of them have never been exposed to anyone in the LGBTQ community. So I took it upon myself to educate, and some of those guys have become the biggest advocates.”

That’s the key. Rosenberg’s peers didn’t just “accept” her. They championed her, and it empowered her to keep going at KCOU. As Rosenberg writes in her essay, if it wasn't for the support she received from two mentors and her fellow staffers, she may have quit last spring.

“There was a point in time when I didn’t feel accepted or welcome into just hanging out at the station, and then after I took my semester break a year ago, I decided I was going to stick with KCOU and make my place in the station and be there,” she said. “My friends helped out, shutting down any language that was deemed inappropriate. The labor of doing that can take a toll and be very taxing on your mental health, so sometimes I would just let it pass, but my friends would be like, ‘Um, no.’”

As a gay person, it can be mentally straining to always play the role of traffic cop. It is also unfair, because it adds additional responsible that other students don’t have to worry about. Rosenberg didn’t have to face the battle alone.

She now proudly lives her life, and as she enters the job market, is unapologetic about her identity.

“It’s so liberating to be open about being gay and having mental illness, because it’s a part of what makes me, ‘me,’” Rosenberg said. “If I can’t be open and authentic about my life, then I can’t really feel accomplished. I feel like I would be fake.”

Click here to check out this week’s edition of “The Sports Kiki Podcast”. You can also subscribe to the show on Apple’s Podcast page as well as on Google Podcasts, and wherever you’ll find Outsports podcasts.