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How a high school teacher showed this gay tennis player the beauty of being LGBTQ

Letter to an LGBTQ role model: When Nick Lee came out as gay in high school, Emily Dombroff provided him with the safe space he needed.

Nick Lee wrote his coming-out story for Outsports in 2018.
Photo provided

In honor of Pride Month, Outsports is asking LGBTQ people in sports to write a letter to a role model. The only criteria is that the role model identifies as LGBTQ. Today, gay tennis player Nick Lee writes to his one of high school teachers, Emily Dombroff.

Dear Emily,

Thank you for everything. Getting to sit at my computer right now, and writing this public letter to you, is surreal.

It is difficult to put into words the pivotal role the safe space you provided in your classroom for GSA meetings at lunchtime during high school was for me. It was the first place within Mamaroneck High School where I felt that I could be my authentic self.

My journey of being openly gay had just begun during my junior and senior years of high school. You were the first adult who I could look to as an out member of the LGBTQ+ community.” Seeing you thriving as the video teacher at the high school, surrounded by students who loved you, gave me tremendous hope that there was a place for me to be myself, and still be loved.

Going to PrideWorks with you and other students through the GSA, hosted at Pace University was another milestone in my life. I had the incredible opportunity to meet other LGBTQ+ high school students, teachers, collegiate student-athletes, coaches, advocates, and allies.

One of the workshops I attended was about LGBTQ+ individuals in sports. I met an openly gay collegiate basketball player, openly gay high school basketball coach Anthony Nicodemo, and the first openly trans man to compete on a U.S. Men’s National Team Chris Mosier. In front of me was a panel of individuals who gave me even more inspiration for what I could aspire to achieve in sports.

I don’t know if you’re aware of the significant positive role you have played in my life. But you weren’t supporting me for the “thank you letter.” You were doing it because you truly care about giving LGBTQ+ individuals a space and opportunities to change our lives. The heroes in our lives are often those whom other people may never know about, but we internally carry them along with us. They forever remain a part of us.

I also want to thank my lifelong childhood friends Emma Balin, Julia Norman, and Will Giddon for being in these spaces with me and supporting me. You were advocating for LGBTQ+ individuals before I had even come out, which speaks volumes about you three.

Thank you, Emily.

With gratitude,

Nick

Nick Lee is currently a rising second-year graduate student pursuing a Master of Education in Counseling with a Specialization in Sport Psychology at Boston University’s Wheelock College of Education and Human Development. He graduated from Vassar College in 2019 where he was a member of the men’s varsity tennis team. He can be reached by email at nilee@bu.edu, on Facebook as Nicholas Lee, or on Instagram @nicklee.aka.licknee.

If you want to write a letter to an LGBTQ role model, drop us a message at outsports@gmail.com or direct message Twitter or Instagram (@outsports).