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For lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) people, coming out is a process of understanding, accepting, and valuing one’s sexual orientation/identity. Coming out includes both exploring one’s identity and sharing that identity with others. It also involves coping with societal responses and attitudes toward LGBT people.
University of Missouri All-American defensive lineman and likely NFL draft pick Michael Sam announced he is gay recently in an interview with ESPN.
Should he be chosen and make an NFL squad, he would become the first openly gay player in the league.
“I am an openly, proud gay man,” he said on ESPN’s “Outside the Lines” program.
“I understand how big this is. It’s a big deal. No one has done this before. And it’s kind of a nervous process, but I know what I want to be … I want to be a football player in the NFL.”
Sam said he told his Missouri teammates of his sexual orientation in August, adding they “rallied around me and supported me.”
“We admire Michael Sam’s honesty and courage,” NFL Senior Vice President of Communications Greg Aiello said in a statement. “Michael is a football player. Any player with ability and determination can succeed in the NFL. We look forward to welcoming and supporting Michael Sam in 2014.”
In Coming Out to others, consider these:
- Think about what you want to say and choose the time and place carefully.
- Be aware of what the other person is going through. The best time for you might not be the best time for someone else.
- Present yourself honestly and remind the other person that you are the same individual you were yesterday.
- Be prepared for an initial negative reaction from some people.
- Have friends lined up to talk with you later about what happened.
- Don’t give up hope if you don’t initially get the reaction you wanted.
- If you feel you just cannot find the words, consider coaching from a therapist who specializes in LGBT issues.
Whether you are an athlete or an average joe, dealing with your sexual identity in a healthy way can also help ease potential mental distress. Be careful about disclosures and remember the list of ‘coming out’ considerations above.