Gay athlete reveals his surprise when confronted by three football players about his sexuality
The world of sport often has a reputation, sometimes rightly-earned, for being homophobic.
Even in other sports, it can be difficult for people to come out as gay or bi.
Triple jump and long jump athlete Jace Anderson was just coming to terms with his own sexuality and telling those around him about his identity and feelings, when he faced a confrontation.
It wasn’t members of the University of Nebraska track team who came up to him, but three members of the college American Football team.
“I’d just started coming out, I’d come out to a few of my best friends a little bit before that… at the time I hadn’t really come out to too many people, ” he explains in a video about coming out as a gay athlete.
When he was first confronted by one of the girls on campus who asked if he was gay, Jace initially denied it, and she then told him that some of the girls on the track team had placed bets on his sexuality and whether they could “turn” him.
“I was just denying it – hardcore denying it,” Jace said.
“That was the first time I threw myself back into the closet, not that I was already out or anything. But outside the track, outside that entire environment I had made really good relationships with my closest friends, being gay and being comfortable with my friends.”
Jace revealed that his confidence in his own identity had been crushed by the experience.
Then, when Jace was at a party with people he was comfortable with, and comfortable being himself with, he faced another confrontation.
“In walk these three gigantic – these literally gigantic human beings,” he said.
“They’re all football players, all linemen, seriously, anywhere from 6’5″ to 6’8″ 250llb plus… they were just really big, massive human beings.”
Jace recognised the football players from around campus and they recognised him.
“Out of nowhere, one of them goes, ‘Hey man, it was brought up in conversation that you swung for the other team’,” he said.
“I didn’t really know what to say. I couldn’t really deny it at this point, because my friends at the party already knew, and he literally just confronted me about it.
“I didn’t really know how to respond to that, so I just said, ‘Yeah’.”
Jace continued: “He said, ‘Hey, we just want to let you know we think that’s awesome and commend you for not denying it or anything like that’.
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Jace was so dazed by the unexpected interaction, and the footballer added: “You don’t really hear about that many openly gay athletes here and we think that’s awesome.
“They each gave me a hug since they could still tell I was very uncomfortable about the whole thing and I was obviously nervous and that probably they knew caught me off guard”
He added: “That whole interaction just blows my mind to this day.
“They were the last people I thought would have confronted me on that and been so welcoming. They’re honestly just cool people.”