We often commend the bravery of college athletes choosing to come out publicly, noting that the spotlight they sometimes-awkwardly receive does wonders for their fellow students as well as the next generation of athletes, gay and straight.
So with the news that six athletes at Yale have decided to come out together and form a support group for LGBTQ athletes on campus, those commendations go double.
According to Outsports, in addition to two athletes who are not fully out to their families (but are to their peers), the four founding members of the group are:
- Timothy Cox, running, ’17
- Jake Leffew, golf, ’19
- Luc Ryan-Schreiber, rugby, ’17
- Wayne Zhang, diving, ’18
Ryan-Schreiber has previously said that while he encountered support from his teammates, his freshman season coach regularly used homophobic language with the team. That coach is no longer active at the school.
“Flash forward to my junior year and I have a great new rugby coach, the team is awesome,” Ryan-Schreiber told Outsports. “When I got connected with Jake, who was struggling with the identity of a gay athlete, we talked it out and afterwards I realized there was no resource around currently.
“So I met with the athletic department to discuss this. After my first meeting with [senior associate athletic director] Brian Tompkins, he asked if I knew any other gay athletes. So I went to find them and we started the group with the hope of improving the reality for LGBT athletes here at Yale.”
We absolutely love the idea. Not only does the collective coming out strategy take the focus off any one individual athlete (NFL — are you listening?), but by forming an official group to help others, the focus becomes the system and what can be done moving forward.
“Our end goal is to create an infrastructure and a social and institutional culture where any athlete feels comfortable coming out and being a queer athlete at Yale,” diver Wayne Zhang told Yale Daily News.
These students have created the opportunity to meaningfully impact their campus, and that could reverberate to other campuses once the idea takes root. Congrats to them all!