Coming-out advice from nine LGBT college athletes we haven’t heard from before

Want to know how to handle being an LGBT college athlete? These nine retired college athletes have their answers.

Outsports recently published a story about the 174 publicly out LGBT athletes from schools in the Power Five Conferences — ACC, Big Ten, Big 12, Pac-12, SEC. Following that story, nine athletes who competed at schools now in those conferences and that have not previously come out publicly took the opportunity to share advice from their experience as an LGBT college athlete.

In addition to other athletes whom we have become aware to have come out, that raises the number of publicly out LGBT athletes from Power Five Conference schools to 188.

Along with these nine additions who have weighed in, Jen Self (Cal Berkeley women’s basketball, 1988-92) and Jeff Stabile (UCLA men’s diving, 1986-88) made OutSports aware they previously came out publicly, and former Iowa swimmer Mike Nelson, former Cal Berkeley golfer Cheryl Lala, and Louisville athlete Emmonnie Henderson have come out publicly as LGBT.

Advice was edited for clarity, length, and to provide a variety of guidance.

Mark Booth

Stanford men’s gymnast, 1990-94

Achievements: U. S. National Team Member (1996-1997); NCAA team championships (1992, 1993); three time NCAA All-American; NCAA floor exercise national champion (1994); U.S. floor exercise bronze medalist (1994)

Advice: Coming out is a difficult journey, but the rewards are countless. It truly is the difference between living and thriving. It takes a lot of energy and effort to repress one’s sexuality. Also, being closeted can take a toll on an individual’s self-confidence and self-worth. For me, the constant low-grade stress was a constant distraction. As an athlete, my low self-confidence had a direct impact on my attitude as well as my performance. For me, it’s truly incredible to see how far we’ve come. The struggle for all LGBTQ athletes is still real, but it is encouraging to know that more and more people are finding the courage to share their stories and live their truths.

Dante Jones

Missouri men’s diver, 2007-11

Achievements: Big 12 platform silver medalist (2010); Big 12 1-meter springboard silver medalist (2011)

Advice: Come out when you're ready. It's your decision when it's time for you to come out, not anyone else's, so therefore when you're ready, that's the time that's right for you.

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This has been reposted from Outsports.