NCAA Women

Vanderbilt Women’s Basketball | Leading With Love

Vanderbilt Women's Basketball | Leading With Love

I’m gay. 

It still strikes me that, almost 12 years later, there is still so much weight behind saying those words. 

Coming out can be a momentous event in a person’s life—a pivotal moment of clarity and vulnerability, of freedom and authenticity. Mine was more of a slow burn, a gradual build toward truth and a painful journey to get there. It was a lot like a 40-minute basketball game—full of exciting runs, scoring droughts, much-needed time-outs, questionable calls, great execution and the constant support of great teammates. 

My life is immensely better after coming out 12 years ago. 

I wanted to be out from the moment I knew I was gay. I don’t recall exactly when that was, but I would guess I was 10 or 11. I’m 31 now. 

I spent so much time wishing I could feel normal or hoping that I would stop hating who I was. Many people who identify as LGBTQ+ have shared in those hopes, dangerous as they are. Some have hoped they were going through a phase, have ignored their identity, or actively repressed it to protect themselves. For a long time, I tried to do some of those things. 

It has taken a long time to forgive myself for the pain I put myself through. I wish I could have been truthful with myself, my family, my friends and the world much earlier than I was able to, but the fact of the matter is that actually coming out is so much harder than wanting to be out. To expose yourself to the world in that way, to be open to unsolicited feedback from people you know and people you don’t, is terrifying. 

A friend of mine in basketball reminds me often why it’s important for some of us to be out, and to be as out as we are. He and I agree that it is best summed up by a social media post by Chasten Buttigieg, husband of U.S Secretary of Transportation Pete Buttigieg, at the start of pride month in 2019: “The closet kills people, and it didn’t get you. That’s reason enough to march and celebrate your existence.” 

The closet kills people. 

It’s hard to type that, so I hope it’s hard to read it. The fear of coming out is enough to convince some people that taking their own life is the safer choice. Coming out of the closet can be as lethal as staying in, and if you are in an unsafe environment, living that truth can be dangerous. In the South, LGBTQ+ youth are four times more likely than their heterosexual peers to attempt suicide before turning 18 (Source: The Trevor Project). Our community deserves more than that….

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