Outsports has a new feature, Out in the World: diving into our deep archive of Coming Out stories and updating the stories of out athletes, coaches and other sports personnel who continue to prove, everyday, that Courage Is Contagious.
Micah Porter was still battling demons when he publicly came out in 2013. Sure, the state-champion Colorado track and field and cross-country coach was finally confident enough to tell his story. But the self-guilt remained, and so did the alcoholism. It took years of introspection, and a loving partner, to help him get through.
Today, Porter is free from alcohol and personal baggage. It is a story of evolution and discovery.
On a recent edition of “The Sports Kiki,” I spoke with Porter about his powerful journey as an openly gay man who came out later in life — after marrying a woman and fathering two kids. For the first time, he also spoke publicly about his long-standing battle with alcoholism. He just celebrated his fourth year of sobriety, or as he puts it: his freedom from alcohol.
“There were some pretty dark times where I just wanted it to all go away,” Porter said. “But I had very few choices. One was to just continue with this charade, and the other was to try and tackle this head on and try to live a life of authenticity and happiness. That’s the path I chose.”
It wasn’t easy, however. The first time Porter told his ex-wife he was gay, they were sitting poolside, watching their son swim laps. When the words came out of his mouth — “I’m gay” — she was silent. Over the coming months, they would tell their children, separate and divorce.
Understandably, there was a lot of anger, and feelings of betrayal. At the time, Porter says he felt selfish. He made a commitment to his wife and children. And now he was pulling his family apart.
“That was driven by being a dad, and the pain and the hurt I knew it would cause my family,” he said. “I knew that was a reality, and it came to fruition in that regard. Those wounds have healed — many of them. But at the time, it certainly seemed like a very selfish decision.”
While Porter remained at his high school — where he led the track and field team to four state championships over 16 years — the conservative administration told him to stop entering his team’s locker room. They didn’t want a lawsuit, they said.
As a result, Porter was forced to change in the bathroom. His battle with alcoholism continued. Coming out wasn’t a panacea for all of the ills in his life. (Porter recently wrote about his struggles with alcoholism on his personal website, writing a letter to his 17-year-old self.)
“The drinking came with me. It’s not just something that goes away overnight,” he said. “There were so many things in my life that were improving and positive. But that was just something I could not shake.”
Porter did eventually shake his drinking. He credits his partner of nearly 10 years, Brandan, with giving him the strength to push forward and seek help.
“I felt shitty,” he said. “I felt horrible physically. I wasn’t getting any younger. Athletes are very in tune with their bodies. We know when we should push ourselves and when we should rest. My body, I could tell, was dying.”
But now, Porter feels reborn, both physically and spiritually. He just turned 48, and for the first time, cares about making himself feel good. Once again, the credit goes to beau.
“My partner, Brandan, has been by my side through it all,” Porter said. “Even though he’s significantly younger than me, he’s got a wisdom and perspective on self and authenticity that really, really helped me. It gave me just a level of confidence and self-love that I never experienced before.”
Porter’s obvious love for his partner, and vice versa, show the power of shared experiences. As LGBTQ people, we can be from different decades and even generations. But we’re all on this journey together.
Today, Porter is an assistant principal at a public high school in Colorado, and also an LGBTQ sports inclusion advocate. He’s working so other athletes don’t feel the need to hide their true selves.
“I’m there to be a resource: talk to the kids, talk to the AD, talk to the coach,” he said. “Here’s why that language matters; here’s how you can change your policies.’ Giving them real accessible and tangible ways to make things better.”
Click here to check out this episode of our Outsports podcast, The Sports Kiki. 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.
Outsports welcomes suggestions for our Out In the World series. Who would you like to hear from again? Also, please reach out if you yourself would like to update us on what you’ve been doing since coming out in Outsports.
Check out our archive of coming out stories.
If you are an out LGBTQ person in sports and want to tell your story, email Jim (firstname.lastname@example.org)
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.