A swimmer with the University of Texas reached a new level of camaraderie with his teammates this week when he told them through a group email that he’s gay — and to his relief, received nothing but support in return.
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“I've been totally blessed by this whole situation because it's gone so well," Matt Korman tells Outsports. "I've gotten zero negative feedback. There were a couple guys who always throw around the word 'faggot' and try to make every situation as masculine as possible. We have guys from the middle of nowhere conservative Texas. But they've been like, 'We're totally fine, you're still my friend and my teammate and good for you.'"
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Outsports, which covers gay sports news, reported Korman’s story after one of his teammates forwarded, with Korman’s blessing, the coming-out email. In it, the swimmer describes how he’d lately been “soul searching and trying to figure out which end is up,” and that he’d “fallen into a state of depression” within the past year. It continues, in part:
"Although this has been something I have known for a while it hit me particularly hard more recently as I have realized that I'm not getting any younger and would like to start dating and enjoy the simple things of life that I have been missing out on. When I was younger I thought I was only curious or it was just a phase for me, but have come to terms that I'm actually gay. (There, I finally said it)
"For a long time I tried to be someone that I am not. By opening up and talking about it I have learned that this is normal and it's okay to be who I am. I have accepted myself for who I am. There is nothing to be ashamed of. It is not something that I choose. It just is.
"Please know that I am telling you this about myself because I love you guys and I really want you to know this important part of me. I was growing tired of all the lying, dishonesty, and pretending. You all have always been there for me and supported me in everything that I do. You are and forever will be my brothers."
“Every coming-out story in sports helps mitigate the fear for someone else,” Outsports co-founder Cyd Zeigler tells Yahoo Shine, explaining that the sports world is still a scary place for many LGBT people, who grow up hearing homophobic slurs on fields or in locker rooms. “I haven't heard a negative coming-out story in men's sports in over a decade, yet people like Matt are still afraid to come out to their coaches and teammates, and the perception persists that somehow the locker room is a place gay people should fear.” So when a story like his comes around, Zeigler explains, it’s incredibly powerful.
Korman did not respond to Yahoo Shine's request for an interview. But his heartfelt email of self-expression is just the latest in what has become a steady trickle of coming-out tales gone public. Within the past year, we’ve seen stories about young people who have come out through a Facebook post, with a cake topped with “I’m gay" written in frosting, during a graduation speech and with a video on YouTube, all with positive reactions from loved ones.
Korman’s story has already inspired a slew of supportive responses. MSNBC producer Michael LaRosa tweeted, “Wish I had his courage during my own swimming days,” and a commenter on Outsports also commended the young athlete. “I lived a lie for 46 years until I met my husband, and I was so proud of him I couldn’t hide it — had to shout out as loud as I could,” he wrote. “Love’s out there, and you’re a strong brave guy. You will find it.”
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