And Yet Another LGBT Athlete Comes Out
I think there is something in the water lately, or perhaps times really are changing. In the past six months, it seems that more gay athletes have come out of the sports closet than the past six years. What has been even more impressive is that most of the athletes are men. It is difficult and challenging for gay male athletes to come out of the closet because of the perception that you have to be a “manly-man” to play sports. There has always been this underlying stereotype that all gay men are effeminate, wimpy, and unable to compete in tough sports (which couldn’t be further from the truth). So, when a gay rugby player or a gay football player comes out of the closet, and he’s a regular “manly man,” it automatically puts holes in said stereotype.
Therefore, it doesn’t hold any water.
Adding yet another gaping hole in such stereotypes is SUNY Oneonta college lacrosse player, Andrew McIntosh. The newly appointed lacrosse captain told Outsports.com that he wrestled with suicidal thoughts before ultimately deciding to come out of the closet. McIntosh, 22, told his teammates that he was gay back in February. It was the same day that Outsports.com ran an article titled, “Gay Lacrosse Player Comes Out To His Team.”
McIntosh wanted his teammates to hear the words directly from him, and not read about online instead. Trust is the cornerstone of any team, no matter what the sport may be. If you can’t trust in your teammates, your ability to be successful and work as a cohesive team is severely limited. McIntosh valued his teammates, and felt that in order for them to be successful as a team then he had to be honest with them about who he really was.
Since coming out, McIntosh’s lacrosse teammates have embraced him wholeheartedly and there hasn’t been any negative backlash. Part of the reason is due to the fact that society has evolved. The other part is because of Dan Mahar. Mahar is Onenota’s lacrosse coach, and he has always maintained a discriminatory-free environment during practices and games. According to McIntosh, he once stopped practice because a teammate said a drill was “so gay.” When the coach makes it a point to create a positive and welcoming environment for everyone, it’s almost a given that the players are going to follow suit. If Mahar hears anyone utter obscene or derogatory remarks, he enforces a penalty of 10 pushups. The lesson is more than just having to do extra pushups, though. It’s about being aware of the words that are said, and what they ultimately represent. The positive team environment that Mahar helped to create is what gave McIntosh the opportunity to feel comfortable enough with who he was, and to trust in his coach and teammates.
This is just another wonderful example of how teams, coaches and players can work together in order to help breakdown needless stereotypes once and for all. As one lacrosse player put it, “It’s not really looked at, ‘he’s homosexual.’ He’s our teammate.”
In the world of sports, isn’t that what really matters?
Blogger Bio: Lyndsey D'Arcangelo is a versatile writer, having experience as a journalist, copywriter, author, freelancer and blogger. She is the author of the Golden Crown Literary Society Award-winning book, The Trouble with Emily Dickinson (also a Lambda Literary Award finalist). Her recent novel, The Crabapple Tree, was published in May 2009. In addition to writing short stories and novels, Lyndsey also contributes regularly to a variety of national and local publications. Visit lyndseydarcangelo.com for more information.