“I thought I’d share my coming out journey. Here it is: When I was ready, I knew I would be ready. I knew for a long time, and could not bear holding the secret anymore. I was ready to share my authentic self with others. I started with my Mom, then my Dad. With my Mom, I got a good reaction but with my Dad, it took some time. Though the initial reaction was not the best, over time he learned that how I identified did not take away from who I am or who I was going to be. My Dad was more concerned with how other people were going to react and treat me, being the protective Dad that he is. Being supported by my parents, helped me to feel even more comfortable in my skin. This allowed me to continue my journey – telling friends, teammates, and coaches. It felt like weight had been lifted off my shoulders. Yet, I understand and acknowledge that not all members of the LGBTQ have this same experience. Every person’s experience is different and I stand in solidarity with my LGBTQ peers who have faced rejection and oppositon in their journey.
“Every coming out journey varies, and it is solely at your discretion when, who, and how to come out. It takes strength to be transparent about yourself when you know you may be facing rejection and opposition. Coming out is a step of vulnerability. I felt a sense of pride when I came out because it is a beautiful thing to feel confident in your skin.I hope and pray that one day, soon, people will not be judged for being who they are. Progress has been made, but there is so much more to do.”
“As a Black woman and LGBTQ athlete I want people to know that social change, and the fight for just is and always should be intersectional. I cannot talk to anyone about my identities separately…they intersect. I am a black queer woman, and in this society, those identities are undervalued. Not to me. I have come to love and appreciate my identities, despite what anyone has to say. I have found power in them. I want people to know that I am privileged, as an out person — and I don’t take the privilege lightly. As a black LGBTQ female athlete, I had a platform. In my four years, I began to understand how to use that platform. In my journey, it was important to me to understand and recognize that there are several reasons not all members of the LGBTQ community are able to live their truth. I vowed to continue to walk in my power and use my privilege to fight for those who are not yet able to walk in theirs. This decision confirms that I can continue to bring my authentic self to every table and will be protected by law. It is a reminder that the tireless work of LGBTQ folks and their allies continues to be important, and we are being heard.”
“Basketball has meant so much to me and I am not sure where I would be without it. I had an interesting journey as a child. I started playing later than most of my peers, and I did a lot of doubting myself. I have been blessed to have had so many great coaches, who were so important to my growth and development. In middle school, Coach Bridget encouraged me to keep working hard and not give up. Coach Hodge helped me pick my basketball number, number 1 — which I have worn for the past 10 years. Coach Reggie, led my middle school rec team to championships — which we won! Coach Collis led my team to league and section championships. My AAU coaches, Coach Derek and Coach Reilly pushed me to work hard and lead by example. Coach Shafer and his staff recruited me and nurtured my potential. Coach Rousell and his staff continued to push me to be a better player, leader, and were important in my final season as a Richmond Spider. Basketball has taught me the importance of relationships and friendships. My teammates are some of my best friends. Basketball has taught me discipline, strength, perseverance — and the will to win. I am truly indebted to the sport itself, and am extremely grateful for every one who poured into me throughout the years.”
I would tell my younger self not to doubt my abilities, and remind myself to never lose sight of my dreams and goals. Each day is a day to get better, whether it is personal development, sports related, or just learning something new. Each day is an opportunity to learn something new and improve and that should never be taken for granted. I would also tell my younger self to be authentic to how I feel, and not let anyone dim my light.”
“My hope is that athletes, coaches, administrators, conferences, and the world of sport will continue to support and by-in to the concept of sports as a catalyst for social change. Athletes are LEADERS. We have such a huge platform, and so much potential to be leaders that it comes to equality. There is a need for equality in sports, and beyond and the culture of athletics should lead the charge. My hope is that one day, athletes of all identities, backgrounds, and cultures will feel supported, uplifted and empowered to use their voices. My hope is that equity in athletics will be reached all the way from student-athletes, to coaches, to administrators.”
How do you think athletes can best promote change in the sports world and beyond?
“Listen. Educate. Actively support. Stand up.”
“I think it is so important that student-athletes recognize their power and the platform that they have. Like I said, we are leaders and oftentimes people look to us first. On an individual level, I think it is important to recognize and be aware of social issues, within athletics, nationally, and globally. Individually, I think it is important that each student athlete serves as a powerful ally to teammates, and collectively create a culture that they can be proud of. Stand up for your teammates, you communities — and advocate for equality at all times. Sometimes it is tiring, but in the long run you may be a part of creating change and having an impact that will drastically change the experiences of those after you.”