Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Hitting (on) a lot of dudes

My buddies over at Sportsgrid brought two things to my attention with this article today: 1.) this website Reddit, apparently I'm behind the times and 2.) this kid in college who has so much pressure on his shoulders right now, and it ain't from the shoulder pads.

Here's my fucked up summary and analysis.

Reddit.com has a section call "IAmA", where "interesting" people can post about what they do and other people can ask questions and get answers about it. No, I will not be posting "IAmAJerseyChaser" or "IAmaCrazyPerson" or "IAmNickSchommer'sBiggestFan". Maybe. I don't know.

But anyway, a guy posted on the site "I am a closeted gay NCAA D1 football player". And the page lit up.

As long as no one asked him any type of question that could lead to his identity being discovered, he was open to all questions. Some asked him about football, about dealing with the noise at away games and what position he plays (OL).

But when people started asking him about the sexuality sitch, he got honest, and while I don't totally agree with his answers, I also get them.

Apparently, he has a "good shot" at being drafted into the NFL. Good for him. And apparently, the only two people who know he is gay? His best friend and his therapist. He also lived majority of his life in denial/closeted completely because he didn't think his friends and family would accept and love him if he came out. And he isn't ready to make that kind of life changing decision just yet.

Let's break this part down for a hot sec. I am very happy that he took the very small step of not only admitting it to himself, but accepting it. My best friend Karl tried to be straight for like, ever. And then he'd get a hot chick home with him and be all like "I have to study" or "she kisses weird" and we'd be like....yep, gay. But he finally figured out that there was no changing it, no rewiring it, no praying it away. He was gay and it was totally cool. And it took him a while to navigate how to tell all of us. His friends, his parents, he told his sister when we were drunk in a car one night and she was driving us home from the bar (thanks, Car). It wasn't like an all at once experience for him. But he gradually got there and now all his friends know, his parents know (his mom is getting better with is every day, and she is involved in his dating life now and asks him questions and gives him advice, whether he asks for it or not like a mom does). We all love him. But he did it in his own time. Keep in mind, this NCAA guy is probably, max, 22, youngest 18. It's a tough spot, but at least he is out to SOMEBODY other than himself, small as it may be.

Next, tragic that he thinks his friends and family won't still love him. Leads me to believe he's southern, leads me to believe the family is uber Christian, leads me to believe it's going to be hard for him. Which fucking sucks. It'd be like me not loving my child (HA, my child) if my kid had blonde hair. Or green eyes. Or a freckle on her cheek. How do you not love your child when you know them, raised them, and hey, they just want two tuxes instead of a tux and gown at a wedding? I feel so bad for this dude and I wish I could give him a hug. I do. And then hit his family if they are in anyway the type of people who would make him feel like his coming out was a mistake or a shame.

Next, he had this to say:

"One part of me feels like I should take advantage of the opportunity I have and come out publicly. The other part of me feels like an ass because I don’t want to just yet.

If I were to come out publicly, there would be so much good that can come out of it. I think one of the biggest things that it can do (which is the reason I feel like a dick for not coming out publicly) is help others out that are in a similar situation. I could use the platform of college football to make the voice of the LGBT community heard as well as help take down gay stereotypes.

But then again, I do not feel mentally ready for all this. I’ve just learned in the past few months how to accept and love myself. Which is why I feel like a dick. If I heard a story about a gay college football player coming out to his team and community, etc. It would make my struggles so much easier seeing that there is someone I can identify with."

He gets it, which is what's most important. He gets the impact it would have, he gets how important he could be in the life of a young gay kid, particularly one who loves sports. He gets the impact it could have probably on the country if he stood up and played well and represented his school well and got drafted as a gay dude. I appreciate that he gets it. I just wish he'd fucking do it.

So many kids need a guy like this for a role model. Gay OR straight. Kids need to grow up seeing that athletes that are talented and good are gay too. That it IS normal, that being gay won't stop someone from being an awesome player. And it breaks my heart that this kid has such an opportunity at hand to do something so amazing and he's hesitant.

On the flip side, he's a kid. And like he said, he just started loving himself. He needs to find solid ground before he can be a poster child, and that I get. If he's seeing a therapist, and he is worried about his family situation, that's a lot to take on. And I can't say I'd push him. I agree that everyone needs to come out in their own good time. But I just wish that people got "in their own good time" means soon. Enjoy life. Don't hide shit for other people's sake. All I keep thinking about is if all the athletes I ever knew/dated/banged/thought about banging/attempted to bang weren't "out" heteros. Like, if they didn't fuck around, date, love, bang. How much of their awesomeness would have changed? How much of their psyche and ability and drive and personality wouldn't exist, on or off the field? Sexuality is a huge part of everyone's daily routine. Even in sports. I can't imagine being an athlete and hiding it. Possibly because I've never MET an athlete who hides it.

It breaks my heart that this kid - who received more than 1,000 comments on this thread - feels like he has to hide a huge part of himself to be accepted, respected, and valued. If he is playing D1 ball and there's a possibility that he might be drafted, he's obviously put in a ton of hard work to get to that point. He deserves to be able to say "this is who I am, this is who I'm dating, this is who I'm going to Disneyworld with if I win a Super Bowl in the next five years". The culture of sports breeds a lot of good shit, but it also breeds a lot of fear about sexuality, or even perceived sexuality. But I think with duds like Sean Avery and the It Gets Better Project involving teams and players, there's way more acceptance of the gay athlete in clubhouses than there was 10, 15 years ago. And my biggest hope for this kid is that eventually, he finds the courage to be happy with all he's achieved. Really happy. With someone he belongs with that has a dinky. And with himself.

However, I only have five words of warning for him, if and when he comes out publicly...

Nick Schomer is Mine Bitch.

Sidenote, trying to find a caption picture by Googleing "football player in jock strap" was not a good idea while I was working at the kitchen table with my mother. She's probably like "wow Stef needs to really get laid if she's looking up athlete themed porn right in front of me". Good times.

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