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Wednesday, July 07, 2010

Playing for the Other Team

Dear Mistress Maeve,

I just graduated and will be going to college on an athletic scholarship in the fall. I'm freaking out about meeting the other guys because I'm gay. In my sport, you're expected to be close with your teammates, and I just don't know how to handle it. Most people in my high school knew I was gay, but it really wasn't a huge deal, and we just didn't really talk about it. Without this scholarship, I would not be able to afford school, so I can't lose it. My parents are pressuring me a little to keep the gay thing under wraps for a while (even though they're mostly supportive). I know I’m lucky to be going to school in a liberal place like Vermont, but these guys will be coming from all over the country. What do you think?




Dear Co-Captain,

No one should have to hide who they are, and you have every right to be yourself without fear of losing your scholarship. If anyone on the team is uncomfortable with your sexuality, it's their problem, not yours.

Attending college in Vermont, you'll be enjoying a highly supportive atmosphere where prejudice is generally not tolerated. That said, being part of a sports team is not unlike being part of a family, and we all know how complicated those relationships can be. Add locker-room culture to that mix, and it's understandable that you feel apprehensive about coming out.

As a rule, it's best to get to know people before disclosing too much intimate information, including sexual orientation. Spend some time with your teammates, seek out those with whom you feel most comfortable and start the coming-out process with them. Meanwhile, get involved with your school's LGBTQA group (that's Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Questioning and Allies). You'll meet new friends and gain a network of support.

Team spirit,

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