It’s a warm Friday night and the line at the ILWU Memorial Hall in Wilmington, California, wraps around the block. The crowd is diverse — men and women, young and old, all different walks of life — and once inside the venue, the buzz is palpable.
Vendors sling cheap beer and tacos as quickly as possible, merchandise sales fly fast at makeshift stands and spectators settle into their folding chairs for a night of independent professional wrestling.
But this night is noteworthy for a reason that goes far beyond the action in the ring. Because on this night, in front of a sold-out crowd some 20 miles south of downtown Los Angeles, everybody is here to see a champion who just happens to be gay.
Jake Atlas won the PCW ULTRALight title in January 2019, a milestone in the meteoric rise of one of the most talented and buzzworthy performers in the sport. PCW (Pacific Coast Wrestling) is one of the most popular companies on the exploding indie wrestling scene. For Atlas, an openly gay man, the impact and importance of his title reign is something he cherishes.
“I have so much pride in a variety of aspects in being the PCW ULTRALight champion,” he says. “I worked so hard for two years to have management believe that I can be a part of their roster, that I can be someone they can rely on to deliver in front of capacity crowds.
“I was the first one in the building and the last one to leave for two years. I did everything from setting up the locker room, holding the cables for the cameramen, running entrance gear for the talent and leading a group of young wrestlers to set up the entire arena on show days.
“To have management believe in my story and background, allowing me to showcase my pride with the lifestyle I live, has been an incredible sense of relief. I am one of the leading faces of PCW Ultra, along with some of the greatest talent in the world. I am also gay. I am proud of that.”
Mike Scharnagl, owner of PCW, never gave it a second thought. “There was never any issue with having an openly LGBTQ wrestler with one of our belts,” he says. “The great thing about wrestling is that the audience is a great cross-section of Los Angeles … when they all get in the building, they are all just fans, blowing off steam from a hard week of work.”
Atlas represents the new breed of LGBTQ talent in the professional wrestling world, a community that has flourished in recent years thanks to promotions like PCW and performers like himself.
It hasn’t always been this way.
In 2013, Darren Young became the first openly gay wrestler in WWE. Young, who had contemplated how to handle his sexuality for years, spontaneously came out to a TMZ cameraman when asked about whether or not the wrestling world was ready for a gay performer.
His fear and uncertainty came from decades as a wrestling fan.
“In the ‘70’s, ‘80’s or even ‘90’s, it was not a safe space for gays,” he says.
After coming out, Young was thrown into a fire that nobody saw coming. Despite an almost exclusively warm welcome from the backstage contingent and a seemingly positive reaction from his boss, those in places of power and influence below the surface were less enthused. The flame burned out quickly.
He draws a straight line between his coming out and his eventual demise with the company. “I sacrificed my WWE career and living my childhood dream to live my life truthfully,” he said.
Young was released from WWE in 2017.
Despite its troubled history, the professional wrestling landscape is diversifying and expanding as quickly as its talent base.
The recently founded and much buzzed about All Elite Wrestling, featuring the likes of the legendary Chris Jericho, signed Sonny Kiss, an openly gay wrestler, and Nyla Rose, the first-ever transgender competitor signed to a major promotion. A Matter of Pride, a promotion that features exclusively LGBTQ wrestlers and allies, is flourishing in New York. Just years ago, the mere thought of developments like this would have been unfathomable.
Anthony Bowens, an openly gay wrestler who has most recently competed for IMPACT Wrestling and WrestlePro, says attitudes have shifted in the six years he has been wrestling professionally.
“I have seen things change and it’s for the better,” he says. “I can’t speak for everyone, but the locker rooms I’ve been a part of have been incredibly supportive and, because of that, all the original worries of acceptance that I had before coming out are not even a thought anymore.”
Mike Parrow, a gay wrestler who prides himself on busting stereotypes with his 6-foot-4 and nearly 300-pound frame, struggled to see himself using his sexuality as a source of power when he started his career. “It was part of the reason I stayed in the closet,” he says. “I thought I would lose all of my bookings.”
Now, Parrow is a torch-bearer for the sport, bringing his message of positivity to shows all around the world.
As attitudes evolve, it is important for LGBTQ talent to not only be accepted, but to be legitimized. In these independent promotions, diversity is paramount, but quality is king.
“A common misconception is that we are expected to be awarded titles, championships and recognition because we are gay,” Atlas says. “I can definitely and confidently say that that is not the general message. The message is that we don’t want our potential to be hidden and/or disregarded because of our sexuality.”
For the new crop of LGBTQ talent, it’s all about what comes next. Wrestlers like Atlas and Bowens will be quick to tell you that WWE is still the goal. To the company’s credit, they have shown signs of growth recently.
Sonya Deville, who came out as a lesbian before her WWE debut, is one of their fastest-rising female stars. At last year’s WrestleMania, Finn Balor, one of the most popular names in the entire company and a straight man, made his entrance decked out in rainbow gear surrounded by the LGBTQ community of New Orleans. Balor had his custom rainbow shirt sold on WWE.com, with a portion of proceeds benefiting GLAAD.
Atlas, who spent time training at the WWE Performance Center late last year, has big dreams for the grand stage.
“The biggest challenge we face is being able to be presented openly and without fear to the mainstream audience,” he says. “I hope to be at the forefront of this progress as I begin to build some more steam in my professional career to get more eyes and attention on our talents.”
But on this night in Wilmington, the only audience that matters is the one in front of him. Not only does the raucous crowd accept him, they embrace him. As chants of “Whose house? Jake’s house!” rain down, he uses finishing move the LGB-DDT to retain his title. It’s just another step toward a revolution.
“I want us to get to a point where becoming a gay champion isn’t a headline, it becomes the norm,” he says. “So, any other LGBTQ kid that comes after us can see that nothing is holding them back from following their dreams.”
Written by: Daniel Trainor. 15 April, 2019. Wrestling. Outsports.com
The NHL said it is investigating the use of a homophobic slur during Monday’s Tampa Bay Lightning at Toronto Maple Leafs game, won by the Lightning 6-2.
“The NHL is aware of reports that a homophobic slur was used during the Maple Leafs-Lightning game,” NHL Public Relations tweeted. “The League is investigating the incident and will have no further comment until this investigation is completed.”
On audio from the game, it’s appears that someone calls a referee a “fucking faggot.” In this clip, the slur can apparently be clearly heard with the TV announcers saying “[Leafs defenseman] Morgan] Rielly looking for a hooking penalty there” as the words are caught on the mic. It is unclear who uttered the words, though, and whether it was a player. The slur with 1:51 left to play in the second period.
It’s telling that the league states definitively that a gay slur was uttered and it’s what I hear listening to the audio multiple times. It also seems that the offender was a Maple Leaf player, someone with the team or a fan based on a statement Maple Leafs PR put out on Twitter from general manager Kyle Dubas:
“The club is aware of the reports surrounding a homophobic slur used during the Maple Leafs versus Lightning game on Monday night. The issue of homophobia is one the Toronto Maple Leafs Hockey Club strongly condemns and takes very seriously. We are in communication with the NHL and are cooperating fully with their office.”
As ESPNw reported, the Maple Leafs have been one of the most vocal supporters of the “You Can Play” organization, which partnered with the team on Feb. 25 for a night that spotlighted the LGBTQ hockey community. A public service announcement featuring Maple Leafs players was shown in-arena during the game. “The Toronto Maple Leafs are very much a part of You Can Play history,” Ryan Pettengill, You Can Play executive director, told ESPNw.
The league has punished players before for using anti-gay slurs. Andrew Shaw was suspended for one game in April 2016, and fined $5,000, when he yelled “faggot” after receiving a penalty. At the time he was with the Chicago Blackhawks, and his suspension forced him to miss Game 5 of the playoff series against the St. Louis Blues. Shaw was also required to undergo sensitivity training.
But a year and a month later, the NHL failed to do anything more than fine Ryan Getzlaf when the Anaheim Ducks captain yelled an anti-gay slur at a ref in Game 4 of their Stanley Cup playoff series with the Nashville Predators.
Social media was awash in theories that I won’t get into and, as usual, the trolls took over. A Reddit hockey forum had to shut down its comments on the thread, writing:
Racist, ethnic, sexist or homophobic slurs/remarks of any kind will lead to a ban. Read more.
People coming here to say “it’s just a word” or “people are too PC” will be banned. We know the trolls are out.
The NHL themselves even say “Hockey is for everyone” https://www.nhl.com/community/hockey-is-for-everyone.
Thanks and please ”Remember the Human.”
Edit: At over 3 hours we’ve let this thread go on. The trolls have now invaded. We’re locking this thread now as there has been plenty of discussion to read through.
I applaud the Reddit moderators because “faggot” is about the worst gay slur that can be uttered against a man, and has been the slur of choice in sports forever. The NHL has suspended players before for saying the word and if a player uttered this, he needs a long suspension and fine.
Written by: Jim Buzinski. 12 March 2019. outsports.com
Amateur male model Malik Joseph has claimed that he engaged in a romantic relation with Oakland Raiders P.J. Hall.
Joseph shared text messages on his Instagram account which are reportedly from P.J. Hall which is states “prove” the NFL player likes men. He also encouraged his followers to harass Hall’s girlfriend over DM.
Furthermore, he has suggested there might be other closeted men, including an individual running for Atlanta City Council, who he’s hooked up with and about to expose.
A rep for Hall tells Black Sports Online the story is totally false and accuses Joseph of making “defamatory and slanderous accusations” against the NFLer, adding that Joseph has a “history of extorting men.”
The rep did not say whether Hall plans to pursue any legal action against the Only Fans model.
Meanwhile, Hall himself took to Twitter to deny the accusations and to say he and his girlfriend are “all good.”
Lmao, me and my girl are all good over here and have been. Y’all can try whatever y’all want!!
— PJ Hall (@Pjjwatt) February 6, 2019
There are no openly gay players in Super Bowl LIII between the Los Angeles Rams and New England Patriots. There has never been an openly gay player in the Super Bowl, but four players who were later out have played in the game.
There have certainly been more than four gay or bi men who have played in a Super Bowl, but these are the only four whose sexual orientation has been made known publicly:
Jerry Smith (Washington Redskins tight end, Super Bowl VII, 1972 season); Roy Simmons (New York Giants offensive lineman, Super Bowl XVIII, 1983 season); Esera Tuaolo (Atlanta Falconsdefensive lineman, Super Bowl XXXIII, 1998 season) and Ryan O’Callaghan (New England Patriots offensive lineman, Super Bowl XLII, 2007 season).
Smith is the only one of the four to start in a Super Bowl, rushing one time for six yards and catching one pass for 11 yards in the Redskins’ 14-7 loss to the Miami Dolphins, who capped a perfect season with the win.
Smith, who later died of complications from AIDS, is also the only one of the four to never come out publicly as gay. But his orientation was known by his Redskins teammates, including running back Dave Kopay, who came out as gay in 1975 after retiring from a nine-year career. NFL Films did a fantastic documentary on Smith’s secret life.
Simmons played with the Giants before landing with the Redskins for their 1983 season that ended in a 38-9 Super Bowl loss to the Los Angeles Raiders. In a 2014 obituary on Simmons, the New York Times reported on his Super Bowl experience:
By his own account, Simmons abused his opportunity in the pros, falling quickly into heavy alcohol and drug use. The night before he played with the Redskins in the 1984 Super Bowl, his last game in the N.F.L., he snorted cocaine. In the stands that Sunday, he said, were friends he had invited, including three lovers — two female, one male. Somehow, he continued to keep his complicated sexuality a secret.
Tuaolo played for five teams, including the 1998 Falcons that lost the Super Bowl to the Denver Broncos, 34-19. He has been an advocate for LGBT people in sports since coming out as gay in 2003 and this week hosted a Super Bowl inclusion party in Atlanta, site of this year’s Super Bowl. He held a similar event last year in Minneapolis, having been a longtime Viking.
O’Callaghan finished his NFL career with the Kansas City Chiefs, but was with the Patriots in 2007 when they lost in the Super Bowl to the New York Giants, 17-14. He came out in 2017 and team owner Robert Kraft has been among his biggest supporters. When I asked Kraft last year about having an openly gay Patriot, he dismissed any concerns, saying, “the only thing I care about is can they help us win.”
Written by: Jim Buzinski. 01 February 2019. Outsports.com
I began playing football on a whim in the fall of 2013, as an eighth-grader in Michigan, not realizing how the sport would change my life.
In football I found camaraderie with people whom I never fathomed I could love. Those I had never previously interacted with became my brothers. It was also during this confusing time of growing up that my mind began to wander and explore the unknowns of human sexuality.
While my friends were already solidified in their sexuality, I vacillated in a state of sexual limbo, not really comprehending what I was. I tried having feelings for girls, tried asking them out and falling for them, but a barrier always existed that made me hesitate and feel uncomfortable.
I was beginning to understand that I wasn’t “normal,” but I refused to acknowledge it. I was finally forced to confront these feelings in my sophomore year of high school when I began therapy for depression and anxiety.
For most of high school, I was able to go through life and never give a second thought to my sexuality. It wasn’t until my junior year in football, however, that I began to recognize the toll it was taking on my life.
During the football season that year, I earned respect and status among my teammates as we went to the state semifinals. Not a week after the season concluded, I was named one of the three captains for next season. I was thrilled for the approval from my peers and coaches for the honorary title. At the same time, though, a sense of cognitive dissonance began to overwhelm me.
I scrutinized my life as a seemingly invalid conclusion popped into my brain. I was a leader of the football team, valued by my team. On the other hand, I was also gay, something I thought was an unforgivable sin to my coaches and teammates, as the idea had connotations of disgust, femininity and reason for ostracism.
Even with the progressive nature of my high school, it is undeniable that football possesses a different culture that exudes explicit normative masculinity. I couldn’t fathom how I, someone who identified as “gay,” could be an “alpha-male,” an athlete who was receiving attention from college coaches. It defied my schema of the separate spheres of “gay” and “jock.”
It was at that moment that I felt alone in the world. I was neither flamboyant nor was I just “one of the guys” on the football team. I couldn’t fully identify with either faction. I was a dichotomy, a paradox.
My mind churned as I accepted the faulty notion that no matter how talented I was as a player or how influential I was as a leader, I would never be unconditionally loved by some of my closest friends because of my orientation.
I felt I could never come out, not without shattering the foundations of the new life I’d built for myself. I would have to shroud my truth and wear a mask for the rest of my life as a football player.
This fear traveled with me as I embarked on life at college. It wasn’t until recently that this paranoia began to dissolve.
It was brought to my attention that a rumor about my sexual orientation was circulating around my hometown and made its way to Kalamazoo College, a private Division III school about two hours west of where I grew up. I was paralyzed with anxiety as I feared the inevitable reactions of teammates with whom I had barely become acquainted.
To my surprise, however, I have only experienced a few adverse reactions to which I have given little regard. After learning that a sizable portion of my new team was made aware of my closely guarded secret, I realized that there was no point in attempting to maintain a false front.
I suppose I was done giving a damn as to what others thought about me, and that it was time to accept who I was. I was done living a lie. I was done trying to be something that I am not.
I had come out to my family in my sophomore year of high school, and they served as my primary support. Slowly, I began to branch out as I learned to trust more and more people, eventually telling my close friends and even some of my teammates on my high school team.
Since I publicly came out this past Oct. 11, National Coming Out Day, with a Facebook post, I have been stunned by the overwhelming support and affirmations from those whom I feared rejection from the most.
In the days after I publicly came out over social media, I received messages from old classmates, teammates and coaches all offering their salutations and, in some cases, apologies for previous insensitivity or intolerant behavior.
Reflecting on all of this, I realized that while it was smart to wait until college to come clean with myself and the world, my largest critic was myself.
Surely, some people may have taken my news with disdain, but ultimately my insecurity was my largest barrier. Those whom I feared rejection from exceeded my expectations in their support for me; it was my own doubt and intolerance that made life intolerable.
By coming out, I can now focus my full attention athletically to being the best player possible. I wasn’t originally interested in pursuing collegiate football until I met the coaching staff from Kalamazoo. I fell in love with Kalamazoo and withdrew my interests from other schools that I was considering, such as the University of Michigan and Yale University.
This last season, Kalamazoo went 7-3, our best record since 1963. In high school I was a captain and named All-State Honorable Mention for both athletic and for scholastic achievements in my senior year. Yet at Kalamazoo, for the first time, I was not a starter and was rudely awakened by the culture of college football.
Coming from a high school where I was one of the tallest, strongest and smartest athletes, when I arrived at Kalamazoo, I learned that the talents I relied on in high school were average traits of the players in college. While I did not start this year, I am working diligently through the off-season to learn, grow and improve.
By writing this article, I am joining the list of openly gay college football players.
By writing this article, I am joining the list of openly gay college football players, partially in solidarity of advocating for equality and exposure and to begin to find my pride in accepting my identity.
I would like to be the eighth member of this exclusive community of open and visual LGBT+ college football players and help end the stigma associated with LGBT+ athletes. I want to help join the fight and be a leader for those who struggle to follow in a path similar to me.
My moral is this: while having the love and support of those around you is important, nothing is more essential than one’s love and acceptance for themselves. It has taken me a long time to learn this lesson, and I’m still working to fully accept this, but it is the greatest piece of advice that I can offer to those who may read this and identify with my struggle.
Learn to love yourself and be comfortable in your own skin. The rest will follow.
Christian Zeitvogel is a freshman offensive lineman on the Kalamazoo College football team, a Division III private school in Michigan. He is pursuing a double major in Political Science and Psychology, and is looking to pursue a career as a civil rights attorney through amicus curiae brief submission. He is involved in social public policy reform advocacy, co-led a student walk-out in reaction to the Parkland Shooting and participated in voter registration drives. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org, on Twitter @The_Zeisenvogel or on his new Instagram account.
Written by: Christian Zeitvogel. 08 January 2019. Outsports.com
Story editor: Jim Buzinski
“Players 71, clothes 0” that is the name of 2019 calendar put out by the Naked Rugby Players, a group that raises money for charity. However, Facebook took exception and suspended the group page for violating Facebook’s community standards.
“The calendar reportedly went against Facebook’s community standards on nudity and sexuality activity, which bans content containing nudity (showing genitals), sexual activity, sexually explicit language and female nipples (except in the context of breastfeeding, birth, health and protests),” Pink News reported, which added, “however, the calendar contained none of the above.”
The suspension was lifted earlier this week and the group’s Facebook page was once again active. “Thank you to Facebook who reversed their decision to ban us! Much appreciated,” the group said.
The 2019 calendar features 71 players from six LGBT-inclusive teams and is used to raise awareness of LGBT players in the sport and also to prod men to get tested for signs of testicular cancer.
“We didn’t want models, we wanted characters and, showing these characters in this artistic light, shows the beauty in us all,” photographer Monty McKinnen said. “That which is in the eye of the beholder, sounds corny yes, but it’s a fact!”
The 2019 calendar was nominated as one of the top five fund-raising calendars in Britain. Prince Harry received a copy of last year’s calendar and told the group: “Thank you for The Naked Rugby Players charity calendar. It was most generous of you and is much appreciated.”
The calendar costs 10 British pounds (about $12.60) and can be bought here.
The 29-year-old first became interested in wrestling at the age of eight, when his brother introduced him to his first ever wrestling show. ‘It was like watching real life superheroes.' Ever since then, he became fascinated with the spectacle and the physical endurance of the sport.
He said he wasn’t very confident in himself while growing up.
Marshall started his wrestling career in 2015, at the age of 26. He was in sales before he started working on his dream of becoming a wrestler. He now wrestles for Perth-based wrestling company Southern Hemisphere Wrestling Alliance. For almost 10 years, they’ve held monthly shows all across Western Australia’s capital city.
Marshall’s wrestling persona is a ‘much more cocky, arrogant and aggressive version of myself, turned up to 11,’ he revealed.
He trains two to four times a week, for two hours at a time. Marshall said it’s ‘a lot of rolls and falls training with huge amounts of cardio.’
Wrestling is also the reason he got into his personal training career. ‘Wrestling had always been the reason I got into fitness and is a big part of what keeps me going,’ he said. ‘I wanted to be a wrestler since I was 10 and am finally living the dream.’
Around the time Marshall started wrestling, his life also changed dramatically for another reason – he came out as gay.
‘I had hooked up with guys in my early years of high school, although it was always in secret,’ he said. ‘I ended up in and out of relationships with girls.
‘The last one when I was 18 – that lasted for seven years. I told her when we were 23 I was bi but [she said] as long as I loved her, she didn’t care,’ he said. But by the age of 25, he couldn’t keep it in anymore. He came out to his girlfriend as gay and then they broke up.
‘We are still friends to this day,’ he said. ‘I owed it to myself to explore [it] at a mature age.’
When he told his family and friends he was gay, they were all supportive. He said: ‘Fortunately, not a single person has been negative towards my coming out.
‘My family – even a very homophobic uncle – were all very supportive,’ he said.
Dave Marshall said his fellow wrestlers have been completely supportive of his sexuality. ‘Southern Hemisphere Wrestling Alliance has been like a family to me since day one,’ the gay wrestler said. ‘They don’t treat me any different.’
The 6’3″ Aussie said he’s not experienced any homophobia during his wrestling career, although his sexuality isn’t part of his onstage persona.
When asked if he would consider introducing it to his character, he responded: ‘As long as it’s done in a correct way, I am not against it. ‘It shouldn’t change much,’ he said. He then added: ‘[Being gay] is not any different to being straight.’
Soon after Marshall broke up with his girlfriend in 2015, he started dating guys. He began a relationship with a man, lasting about three years. They only recently broke up.
But before they did, his ex encouraged him to start an OnlyFans account. OnlyFans is a subscription-based platform that allows users to access X-rated content from someone, with a small monthly fee. Marshall wasn’t initially sure about starting it so took some time to think.
The gay wrestler eventually began posting content in March this year and says he wanted it to be a little different. He explained: ‘After some thought, I did start it up with part [of the] proceeds going to Beyond Blue – a suicide prevention charity.’ The reason he wanted to help this charity is because his dad took his own life last year.
In an Instagram post, Marshall revealed: ‘The reason the money I raise from my OnlyFans goes towards Beyond Blue is seeing everyday how big depression and anxiety has become in society and almost overlooked. ‘[It’s my] first time saying this but my father took his life last year.’
Marshall then added: ‘Older men have a “Harden the fuck up” mentality they were brought up with.
‘Stats on LGBT in this area are quite scary too so I hope I can in some way, give back to my community. Positivity is everything,’ he said.
So far, Marshall has raised $5,000AUD ($3,617US) for the suicide prevention charity. He posts regular updates to his Instagram about the initiative, including screenshots of the confirmation emails Beyond Blue sends him after every donation.
Marshall recently started dating someone new, but says his new boyfriend is not publicly out as gay so it wouldn’t be fair to name him. ‘We have very similar values,’ Marshall revealed. ‘He is very driven in his work, has a passion for fitness and makes me feel like a million dollars. ‘And of course is gorgeous,’ he jokes.
Greg McLean is the latest gay man to come out publicly in English soccer, now part of a slowly growing list that is showing the true acceptance at the heart of the sport.
McLean is a coach and club secretary at St Margaret’s Old Boys football club in Liverpool on the western coast of England. He recently talked with Sky Sports about coming out to his family and soon after quitting soccer for fear of how he would be accepted. When he decided to come out to the players in text messages to see if they would be comfortable playing for a gay man, the response was predictable:
“Every player texted back to tell him that his fears were unfounded, and that he’d be welcome to return to the club when he was ready - something he did soon after,” according to Sky Sports.
He’s now back with the team and sharing his story of acceptance as a gay man in soccer in hopes of inspiring other LGBTQ people in sports to be their true selves, particularly in the midst of the Rainbow Laces campaign.
“I feel it’s an important subject to share and to talk about - even if my story resonates deeply with just one person, it’s worth doing,” he told Sky Sports. “But I’ve already had so many messages that I know it’s gone much further than that.”
While they are still few and far between, we’ve now seen a handful of men come out publicly in English soccer, namely out gay soccer player Liam Davis, referee Ryan Atkin, executive Hugo Schecter and now a coach in McLean. These men are finally showing people across English soccer what we in the United States have seen for years, thanks to athletes in high school and college sports: Athletes are far more accepting than we give them credit for.
Read everything McLean had to say about his experience at Sky Sports.
Written by: Cyd Zeigler. Outsports.com. 27 November 2018
Wyatt Pertuset has quite a season, the wide receiver and punter for Capital University in Ohio is one of seven openly gay college football players this season.
Pertuset made headlines when he became perhaps the first openly gay player to score a touchdown and was featured on ESPN. But perhaps the biggest honor was being named Special Teams Player of the Week by the Ohio Athletic Conference, which plays in Divison III.
“Pertuset was called upon to punt four times in last week’s matchup against Baldwin Wallace over Homecoming Weekend. He totaled 182 yards in his four punts and averaged 45.5 yards per boot, a new single-game high for the junior. He also set the mark for a new personal long when he cranked one punt 55 yards downfield. Three of his four punts also pinned the Yellow Jackets inside their own 20-yard line.”
Pertuset admits he is proud to be gay and has no problems with people knowing it.
“I want it to be one of those images in young minds, especially for the same age as me, who might be in the closet, to work hard and just play your heart out, not only for your team but for what you stand for,” Pertuset said after scoring his touchdown a month ago. “I want this to be a turning point that proves to people that we are great athletes as well.”
Tadd Fujikawa became the first professional golfer to come out. On Monday Fujikawa opened up in an Instagram post that detailed his coming-out journey.
"So ... I'm gay,â Fujikawa declared. "Many of you may have already known that. I don't expect everyone to understand or accept me. But please be gracious enough to not push your beliefs on me or anyone in the LGBTQ community. My hope is this post will inspire each and every one of you to be more empathetic and loving towards one another.â
âI've been back and forth for a while about opening up about my sexuality,â he continued. âI thought that I didn't need to come out because it doesn't matter if anyone knows. But I remember how much other's stories have helped me in my darkest times to have hope.â
Fuijkawa made history at 15 when he became the youngest golfer in history to qualify for the U.S. Open. In 2007 at the age of 16, he became one of the youngest players to qualify for the PGA Tour event.
He revealed in his post how being in the closet weighed his spirit and was detrimental to his mental health.
âI spent way too long pretending, hiding, and hating who I was. I was always afraid of what others would think/say,â he wrote. âI've struggled with my mental health for many years because of that and it put me in a really bad place. Now I'm standing up for myself and the rest of the LGBTQ community in hopes of being an inspiration and making a difference in someone's life.â
It was important to Fujikawa to encourage others to reach out to him for support. He also gave a personal message to everyone: âYou are loved and you are enough â¦ as is, exactly as you are.â
âWe are all human and equal after all,â he concluded. âSo I dare you ... spread love. Let's do our part to make this world a better place.â
Read his full message below.