It’s not a surprise that track and field athlete Ty Wright wound up at BYU after being named after famous BYU quarterback Ty Detmer. What is a surprise is that Wright enrolled knowing he was gay at a school not known for being LGBTQ-friendly.
“I am completely out,” Wright said on “The Queer Athlete” podcast hosted by Emma Gee, herself LGBTQ and a former BYU track and field team member. “If somebody asks I will tell them and I am not hiding things any more. I’ve chosen to share that part of my life with anybody who wants to know about it, but I haven’t made a public post or anything.”
Wright, 20, grew up in Shelley, Idaho, where the town is almost all Mormon, as is Wright and his family. Despite knowing from an early age that he was gay, the four-time Idaho high jump champion was so focused on his athletic career and getting a scholarship that he didn’t spend much time thinking about his sexuality when he chose BYU.
“I knew it would be the best fit for me despite what I thought,” Wright said describing the recruiting process. As he was rehabbing from injuries while missing his first two seasons competing for the BYU track and field team, Wright had plenty of time to think about who he was.
He came out to his coach, who encouraged him to do the same to his parents and four siblings. Finding nothing but love and acceptance, Wright has felt no need to hide his sexuality and has been embraced by his teammates.
“Everybody has been so supportive and not afraid to ask questions and be a part of my life,” Wright said. “It’s made me feel more accepted and loved and supported.”
During the podcast, Gee and Wright discussed the BYU Honor Code that, among other prohibitions, says that “same-sex romantic behavior cannot lead to eternal marriage and is therefore not compatible with the principles included in the Honor Code.”
Gee and Wright talked about how navigating being LGBTQ at BYU with the code can be tricky, with Wright focusing on the love and acceptance he has received as his main reward.
“It’s a very tough conversation and question because we knew what we signed up for when we came here, when we chose to compete at BYU,” Wright said. “We do have to deal with that because it is their policy.”
“You can still have a good experience at BYU despite the Honor Code,” he said. “You can choose your friends, your attitude on how positive you want to be.”
The 25-minute podcast is worth your time and Gee has done a great job of using her platform and insight as a queer athlete to illuminate important issues and interesting people like Wright.