Matt Lynch, far right, with LeBron James and two friends following a pickup game when Lynch was a teenager. | Courtesy of Matt Lynch

Ten years ago, as a budding college basketball coach who happened to be gay and in the closet, Matt Lynch would have been the one asking the questions.

This month, as part of an online Pride initiative by Uninterrupted, the LeBron James media brand, Lynch and other LGBTQ people in sports will be answering questions from people who might be struggling with their sexuality.

Lynch, the only out gay men’s college basketball head coach, will be joined by a rotating group of LGBTQ athletes, including Breanna Stewart and Chelsea Gray of the WNBA, former NFL player R.K. Russell, college volleyball player Merrick McHenry and runner Emma Gee. A couple of other athletes will also be announced.

Russell started off the month on the site Q and Athlete by answering questions such as, “How do you handle being the only queer person on a team and being bullied or ostracized? How do I stay true to myself or protect myself?”

“The best part about a team is that no two players are the same,” Russell replied. “Teams are supposed to be diverse groups of people coming together and becoming stronger, smarter, and better because of their varied perspectives, abilities, and backgrounds. You being YOU makes your team better, so remember that, and if you ever feel like you’re being treated unfairly because of it, make sure you reach out to someone(s) in the organization who can speak up on your behalf, players, coaches, referees, athletic directors, parents, etc. Focus on being a good teammate and your teammate, playing hard, and winning games; your teammates will do the same.”

Stewart was asked: “What do you do when you are on a co-ed team and the men are outwardly uncomfortable with other being gay/LGBTQ+?”

“First, stay confident in who you are,” Stewart replied. “Your identity is valid and important. If you feel safe, try having an open, honest conversation with them about how their behavior affects you. Sometimes, people need to understand how their actions impact others. Seek allies on the team who can support you. And don’t hesitate to involve a coach or authority figure. … A coach isn’t just there to guide you through the game, they’re there to help keep the relationships on the team steady—it’s what they’re there for. You deserve to feel safe and accepted.”

The website is the idea of three LGBTQ Uninterrupted employees — Reed Jackson, Noa Chang and Ethan Haddox.

“I came up with the concept of a safe place to ask questions based on my own experience as a queer person,” Jackson told Outsports. “Up until not long ago … I was still once in a while messaging public figures, musicians, athletes, etc., about the nuances of identity and sexuality. I’d do this after hearing a podcast or reading an interview where they’d mention it. I’d never get a response because I was a random person messaging folks that were well known and had big followings, so I thought creating a tool to connect these two groups would be helpful. And working at Uninterrupted, ‘The Athlete Storytelling Company,’ athletes naturally seemed like the best talent to get involved.

“The most important part: My coworkers Ethan and Noa, who are also queer, and I decided to build and create this thing all ourselves as queer employees of UN with zero outside funding from brands.”

In a cool connection, Lynch once played pickup basketball with James when he was a teenager (see the main photo), and he told Outsports that he never would have dreamed of being asked to be involved in a project like this. Jackson himself played high school basketball and come from a hoops-loving family.

“One of the main reasons I was excited to create this portal was that my two teenage nephews are now entering the very competitive world of AAU ball,” Jackson said. “I know they’re growing up in an environment that’s very competitive and doesn’t really encourage talking about stuff like that.”

This is a great idea and resource, a way for people with questions to ask them anonymously and get answers from athletes who have been through the struggles of their own coming out.