Coming Out Stories
Outsports' list of coming out stories from LGBT people in sports.
‘I have no doubt that without Fergus I never would have had the resolve to put myself out there in this way,’ writes pro rugby player Devin Ibanez.
Couper Gunn gained strength on and off the field after deciding to stop hiding.
Therese Pitman used to hide her feelings for other women while also dating men until she decided to just be herself.
Working on a video highlighting LGTBQ sports equality in Kentucky was the catalyst for Justin Mathis to begin his coming out journey.
Golf ‘at its core is a conservative white straight cis-male dominated industry,’ says Kyle Winn. ‘It has gotten better, but we have a long way to go.’
Lauren Harrigian spent years struggling with her transition, but she can now say she is ‘both a competitive marathon runner and also an amazing trans woman.’
John Olbrys discovered his sports passion on the water and his career in the Coast Guard, and after coming out has found it progressively easier to be himself.
Unique Smith found a home and support on his college volleyball team by being himself.
When SMU’s Bri Tollie tore her ACL, she never thought it would be a catalyst to come out as a bisexual athlete.
The sport has often been a hostile space for LGBTQ players, but when Noah Knopf came out, he felt liberated and says it’s been ‘sunshine, rainbows and lacrosse’ ever since.
Joe Hamilton struggled with his sexuality, but has found acceptance on his college cross-country and track teams.
Wilthalrio Coachman has found himself through semi-pro football, and as a police officer with a career in the military.
Justin Balthazor waited until he had proven himself with points and rebounds to share his true self with everyone in his basketball world.
‘I’ve realized that marrying my love of drag performance with a passion for sports is likely my truest form,’ Shanda Leer says.
Luke Klipp embraced a new MLS team until the homophobic chanting started. The aftermath restored his faith in his fellow fans.
He avoided slapshots on the ice and was an umpire at Wimbledon. Coming out as gay was more difficult
Bryan Hicks had a successful career as an umpire in tennis and referee in hockey. But keeping his sexuality a secret eventually became too much.
Josh Sorbe was the homecoming king and student body president at the University of South Dakota where he was able to reach his potential as an openly gay student-athlete.
‘Swimming, biking, running and lifting took away the anxiety caused by being in the closet,’ says Matthew Helmerichs.
Richard Coffey battled isolation and his sexual identity by embracing hockey, but he now realizes he had to be honest with himself to be truly happy.
JR Jaquay remembers the isolation as boy growing up in Texas and feeling different. That led him to stressing inclusiveness in his coaching and training.
‘Horses don’t understand concepts such as sexual orientation, or gender identity,’ says college equestrian rider Jay Robinson. ‘The only thing that a horse really cares about is how the person in the tack makes them feel.’
Jonathan Kliment decided to be himself as he pursues his dream of broadcasting one day in the NHL.
The Big Bad Kaiju long struggled with his sexual identity but has found love, acceptance and liberation since unveiling his truth in and out of the ring.
Stephen Finkel used a teammate’s gay slur as a catalyst to come out, including support from four NHL players.
Joshua Lindsey never dreamed he’d go from Kentucky to New York’s Madison Square Garden, but seeing another out person in sports management changed his life.
Chris Kinney never fit in a neat box as a multiracial man who is attracted to both men and women. After enduring horrific bullying while living in Japan, he came back to the U.S. and found a new sport and a new confidence in being himself.
Seeking to inspire those closeted in the sports industry, Theo Rabinowitz tells of his experience coming out to his CBS Sports co-workers in 2015 and the acceptance he’s found since.
Ross Furbush was able to be his authentic self with the help of his mentor, whose acceptance of LGBTQ people mirrored that of his church.
Gordie Mitchard wrestled with the hyper-masculinity of hockey but learned to broaden the definition with the help of a popular gay fellow referee.
Any fears Mitchell Thomas had about coming out melted away when he was embraced by his teammates.
When Caitlin McQuilkin-Bell decided to open up to a trusted University of Florida coach about her girlfriend, it gave her the strength to come out.
Adam Fyrer has been able to be his authentic self and also play a sport he loves by being honest as he gained self-confidence in his identity.