Go home or come out?
June 25, 2006 11:42 AM Subscribe
Gay athlete needs life advice--should I keep training at the elite level or move on and get a "real life"?
posted by anonymous to Sports, Hobbies, & Recreation (18 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
I'm at a crossroads. I'm an American but have been studying abroad and finally finish school this summer. I can either go back to the US and devote another two years to my sport and try to make the Olympic team, or "grow up", stay abroad and enter the working world. It seems like it should be an obvious choice to keep training, but there's a lot to consider and I'd love some advice.
I'm gay and have finally started to come out to my current teammates after our competition season ended. Most have been really supportive. One doesn't really 'get' it having known me so long acting straight, and there are others who now know I'm gay, but we haven't talked about it so it's slightly awkward--I want to tell them in a private moment but haven't had the chance and don't want to make a big deal of it.
On the teams I've been on, I've never wanted being gay to be the first thing people know about me. I want to be judged on my work ethic and ability, and just be one of the guys. We had a guy on the team this year who was out but didn't make it through the season (because of injury), and he was treated differently--not badly, but differently--and I didn't want that.
I've been doing my sport for a long time, and have competed at a high, international level. If I go back to the US and move to the national team training center, I'll have a chance at making the Olympic team. But I don't know if it will be a great chance. I've been able to do well in the past because I have a good aerobic capacity and work ethic, but I've always been much shorter than everyone else, and this makes me struggle with some aspects of the sport. For the past two years I've felt like I've plateaued; I've been trying extremely hard to improve and haven't gotten much better.
If I go back to the States and train with the squad, I'd like to continue gradually coming out to people, start bringing boys to social events, that sort of thing. The athletes, many of whom I already know, I don't think would care at all. But the coach might be another story. He's probably professional enough to not let it be an issue, but I can't be sure (he has been known to bring up peoples' personal lives during training sessions to rile them up), and I don't know of any guys who have been out during his tenure. And that might be enough to keep me in the closet.
The dream has always been to keep training and see how far I can get with it. But now I really like my life abroad and don't want to leave my friends here. Assuming I can get a decent job and the visa issues work out, part of me really wants to stay, become a grown up and have more serious relationships with boys. But then I flip-flop--while I don't love my sport the way I used to, I do still feel something for it.
I anticipate some of the responses could be "go for it, you're only young once, you have the rest of your life to work, you don't want to regret it in the future..."--that's what people I'm not out to say. But right now I don't think I will regret it. I obviously don't want to sell myself short, and I have done well in the past, but I've been struggling for a while and don't know if I have what it takes. I'm finally admitting to myself that I've been doing the sport for so long not just because I love to compete--I also like being in close proximity with a lot of fit, good looking guys.
So what should I do, keep training or move on?