I’m gay. And I play sports. Yet in my hick-filled town in Alberta, Canada, my best friends, teammates, and my brothers on the ice and field tell me that gay guys can’t play sports.
I don’t blame them for their ignorance because until I build up the courage to walk out of the closet with my head held high, they have no idea who they’re really talking to.
Until I finally admitted to myself that I am in fact gay, I was in the exact same mind set as my teammates. The only gay person I had in my life was a fairly distant cousin. He’s great, but fits into the feminine gay stereotypes that don’t fit my mold. I knew myself well enough back then that there was no way I could ever fit into a twinky, skinny, feminine box. I also knew that girls weren’t for me. All of this led to a very confused adolescent. The only constant I had was my sports.
Hockey is my main passion and I’m happiest in the winter. My happiness suddenly died down when my coaches introduced us to the locker room showers. Some gay guys ask me why didn’t I just jump right in and admire, and it’s really not as simple as it seems. You should try not getting aroused in a room full of good-looking naked guys your age. I couldn’t do it. With my lack of bravery came years of mocking.
But everything always went smoothly in the dressing room. I would take the occasional peek and would hear the occasional joke. That was until one incredibly unlucky guy got a boner in the middle of a team shower. I felt bad for him because he was shunned and teased to no end. I was also kind of angry. I wasn’t too far away from coming out until my teammate’s unfortunate boner showed me the ferocity of my peers. The closet doors were now a million miles away.
Trapped and with nowhere to go I began searching on the internet for coming out stories from guys like me. To my disappointment, I couldn’t find anything besides stories of guys who went to arts schools and came out flawlessly or news articles of the boy who committed suicide because of the bullying he endured from his peers and “friends.” None of this was helping me out so I looked for something different.
I eventually found gay athletes on Twitter that were the opposite of the stereotype I was told I had to conform to and my eyes were opened up to a totally different gay guy, the gay guy who would disprove my mocking friends cruel and dismissive attitudes. This was who I wanted to be.
Twitter has become my way of expressing the feelings I’ve stuffed deep down in a titanium safe for years. I’ve opened up and my Twitter is my full personality. Meeting gay guys who have played hockey or rugby or any other sport allowed me to feel finally not alone.
In the four months since first clicking the sign up button, I have come out to 10 people close to me. Three of those people were guys on my team. Although they sometimes bug me about my being gay and I have to remind them I can still beat them up, they are accepting of me. I now feel like I am slowly but surely coming out through the locker room doors.
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image via Flickr user ipdegirl