Pennsylvania’s Brian Sims talks “out athletes” based on his own experience

Openly gay Pennsylvania state legislator Brian Sims recently spoke to ESPN about 49ers Chris Culliver’s pre-Super Bowl homophobic comments.

Brian Sims, the only college football captain to ever come out, said he was happy there was so much backlash against Culliver’s remarks during Super Bowl media day.

“Everyone should be allowed to speak their mind, but in this case, it was wholly ignorant and wholly stupid,” said Sims, who recently was elected as the State Representative for the 182nd District of the Pennsylvania House of Representatives. “This is not acceptable in the workplace and shouldn’t be acceptable in sports.”

Excerpt from Brian’s interview with ESPN:

What was your first reaction to the Culliver quotes?

“I had two reactions. The first was to laugh. I remember that Charles Barkley had this great line where he said any time someone talks about not wanting a gay teammate hasn’t been looking. There are gay guys in every locker room. That’s the idiocy of what Culliver said. I also thought it wasn’t fair to his teammates to imply that what he was thinking was the norm. That has not been my experience.”

The story goes that you came out to your college football team. Is that true?

The truth is I was gay my whole life. I had dated girls in high school. I think I knew I wasn’t straight long before I knew I was gay. I knew by the time I got to college that I was gay. My team actually came to me to ask me whether I was gay. They wanted to talk about it. They asked me about the struggle and when I was going to tell people. I didn’t go through the same struggles as people today. Today, you have 14-15-16 year olds so confident and secure in their sexuality. I was not. I wasn’t a gay 17-year-old ready to come out to the world. When I got to college, I realized I was gay. I just didn’t know how to go about it. My college didn’t have a LGBT group to give me the language to come out. It was my quarterback who asked me first.”

Do you hope for the day when the topic of sexuality isn’t discussed?

“I do hope there is a time when you don’t have to discuss it but still wants to discuss it. I live in a neighborhood in Philadelphia called ‘Gayborhood.’ It’s next to Chinatown and the Italian area of town. I don’t want to speak on behalf of all Italians but they’ve been discriminated before but they still love their culture, heritage and solidarity. I want us to reach a time when race and sexuality isn’t a negative factor. Sports teams need some bad ass gay men and women’s teams need lesbians to come out. It’s going to be a good thing.”

Read the full interview at ESPN.

High school senior produces documentary based on 10 coming out stories of men aged 15 to 82

Devon Yaffe, a high school senior in L.A., recently completed his Senior Project, a 90-minute documentary in which ten gay men talk about their experiences growing up and coming out.

Writes Devon: “After finding out I could choose any topic for my Senior Project, I decided on one that was closer to home: Overcoming Adversities as a Gay Teen. As a member of this ever growing community I planned to branch out to the gay community in order to hear the stories of gay youth. This documentary tells the story of ten gay males, ages ranging from 15-82. We find out how each of them overcame their adversities as a gay teen throughout each generation. Please enjoy.”

I’ve watched much of it and while simple in format, the men’s stories are powerful in their telling.

NJ High school senior comes out to his class, standing ovation

Jacob Rudolph, a high school senior in Parsippany, New Jersey, comes out to his entire class at their awards ceremony (Class Clown, Most Likely to Succeed, etc.).

Says Jacob in the clip, as he accepted the award for “Best Actor”:

“Sure I’ve been in a few plays and musicals, but more importantly, I’ve been acting every single day of my life. You see, I’ve been acting as someone I’m not. Most of you see me every day. You see me acting the part of ‘straight’ Jacob, when I am in fact LGBT (Lesbian/Gay/Bisexual/Transgender).

“Unlike millions of other LGBT teens who have had to act every day to avoid verbal harassment and physical violence, I’m not going to do it anymore. It’s time to end the hate in our society and accept the people for who they are regardless of their sex, race, orientation, or whatever else may be holding back love and friendship. So take me leave me or move me out of the way. Because I am what I am, and that’s how I’m going to act from now on.”

Cue the standing ovation.

Forward, kids.

(from Towleroad)

Shirtless Matt Jarvis on cover of Attitude Magazine shows support for gay footballers to come out

Click pic to enlarge

The Guardian reports an interview with Matt Jarvis – the third straight football player (after David Beckham and Freddie Ljungberg) to appear on the cover of UK’s Attitude magazine – who is also the latest to appeal for a gay footballer to come out:

In an interview, the winger said it was time that a gay footballer felt comfortable enough to come out. “It’s everyday life. It’s not something that’s going to be a shock,” he said. “I’m sure there are many footballers who are gay, but when they decide to actually come out and say it, it is a different story. It’s one that I’m sure they’ve thought about many times. But it’s a hard thing for them to do.” …

Jarvis told Attitude that he thought times had changed and an openly gay footballer would receive the support he needed. “There’d be support everywhere within the football community, whether it be players, fans or within the PFA [Professional Footballers’ Association]. There would definitely be groups of people who would be supportive and help them through it,” he said.

Jarvis is a winger for Premier League club West Ham United.

(source)

Ian McKellen on Anderson Cooper: “I’ve never met a gay person who regretted coming out”

Ian McKellen and Anderson Cooper sat down today to talk about The Hobbit, but spent part of the segment talking about being out and proud, and the progress on gay rights in the last 20 years.

Said McKellen, discussing a time when homosexuality was illegal: “I was making love until I was about 30 with my live-in boyfriend and we were breaking the law every time we had sex. Breaking the law. We could have been arrested. All the bad laws have gone. But there’s a long way to go.”

McKellen then praised Obama for coming out for marriage equality, eliciting a big round of applause from the audience.

(via Towleroad)

Pennsylvania: GOP State Rep. Mike Fleck comes out

Pennslyvania Republican State Rep. Mike Fleck comes out

Pennsylvania state Rep. Mike Fleck came out yesterday, one year after separating from his wife. Fleck now becomes the nation’s only openly gay Republican state legislator. Via Politics PA:

In a deeply personal story by the Huntingdon Daily News (subscription), Fleck, a devout Christian, explained the difficult road to his announcement. “Coming out is hard enough, but doing it in the public eye is definitely something I never anticipated,” he said. “I’m still the exact same person and I’m still a Republican and, most importantly, I’m still a person of faith trying to live life as a servant of God and the public. The only difference now is that I will also be doing so as honestly as I know how.”

He said his party affiliation remains strong. “The Republican party is all about the government needing to stay out of people’s lives,” Fleck said. “I’m not a one-issue person and it’s not a one-issue party.” Fleck, 39, has a resume that would impress Republicans anywhere. An Eagle Scout by age 18, he graduated from Liberty University in 1995 and worked professionally for the Boy Scouts of America as a district executive in Huntingdon County from 1999 to 2004.

Fleck also said that he tried religious therapy to rid himself of same-sex desires, but to no avail. “I sought out treatment from a Christian counselor, but when that didn’t work out, I engaged a secular therapist who told me point blank that I was gay and that I was too caught up in being the perfect Christian rather than actually being authentic and honest,” he said.

As for his ex-wife, Fleck said she remains his best-friend. “My wife and I became closer than ever [after I came out to her], but it was bittersweet as we both concluded that the marriage was over,” he said.

The above-linked story notes that Fleck has not yet had to vote on any LGBT-related issues.

Last month Democrat Brian Sims was elected as Pennsylvania’s first openly gay legislator.

(source)

When a straight blogger comes out

I love reading the blog posts of Dan Pierce who writes the wildly popular blog “Single Dad Laughing.”

In just a few years he’s developed a very large following, and his writing is full of fun, laughs and heart as he chronicles life as a single dad.

He also made a lot of “blog noise” with what is probably his most famous post “I’m Christian Unless You’re Gay” noting the often seen hypocrisy and thoughtless comments by some on the religious right and sometimes within ourselves.

Today, he posted what may be his most personal blog post to date as he comes out as bisexual. The post is lengthy and thoughtful as he offers an almost stream of consciousness of coming to grips with his sexuality at the age of 32. And how he’s endured the pressures and pain of family and friends either laughing at or openly denigrating the LGBT community.

I imagine the majority of those comments he’s witnessed and suffered through came from people who may have thought they didn’t know anyone in the LGBT community.

Now they do.

I know it took a lot of courage for Dan to not only “own” who he is for himself, but also to his family, friends and public who know him for his blog. I also know that “it gets better.” It’s not a cliche, it’s truth.

Dan’s coming out will have powerful impact not only on his own life, but his readers as well as they realize that the man they’ve come to know through reading his blog is still the same man. And even better, they have just a little more insight into who their LGBT neighbors, friends and family may be.

Here’s just bit of Dan’s courageous post. You can read the whole post by clicking here. Why not go take a read and leave a supportive comment. At last count, there have been over 900 comments in less than two hours. All of the ones I read were positive. Go show Dan some internet love and give him a pat on the back.

Bracing myself against both sides of my bathroom sink as I scrutinized something significantly deeper than my own reflection, I finally whispered aloud my first truly honest thought about my own sexual orientation.

You see, I’ve never wanted to be anything other than straight.

Since I was eleven years old, I’ve been desperate to only be attracted to those of the opposite sex. I’ve masked and obscured any feeling I’ve ever felt that threatened my place within the realm of what I’ve been coached is both normal and acceptable.

Several months ago, I was finally forced to an edge where I couldn’t pretend any longer. The act of pretending had pushed me continually deeper into life-threatening depression, and it was time to figure out how to admit my own secrets to the world, and far more importantly, how to admit them to the one person who could never be at peace until I did.

To do so became my only option if I ever wanted to be authentically happy, if I ever wanted to be authentically intimate with another, or if I ever wanted to finally stop existing as a fake.

And so, I’ll just say it.

I’m not straight.

Those words are by far the most difficult words I’ve ever typed, and I know they’ll be far more difficult to share.

[snip]

A few months ago, I used an admittedly effeminate hand gesture at family dinner. I naturally use it all the time, only this time it was shortly after the emotional shift toward coming out had started to happen within me.

My brother saw me do it. He laughed uncomfortably and then all too seriously said, “please tell me you’re still straight.”

There are many that have worried about my sexuality for a long time now. And the way he said it, I intrinsically knew that to be anything other than straight might do great damage to something between us. I just laughed it off. I wasn’t ready to tell him yet. I couldn’t tell him yet.

Dear God, please don’t let me be anything other than straight.

The thought pierced me then perhaps more than ever before, though I’ve struggled against the current of such thoughts thousands of times over the past 21 years.

Since that moment, I have been particularly sensitive and observational of such statements being made by others. My heart wants to tune them all out. My mind tries to absorb every one of them. It’s been a never-ending tug of war between the part of me that wants to maintain the love and admiration of those around me and the part of me that franticly seeks freedom to finally be who I have always dreaded that I am.

“I can’t stand fags,” a friend said so nonchalantly at game night one Friday evening. He then listed his reasons for his revulsion and the table got lost in jubilant conversation about how many gays there are where we live nowadays. Many thoughtless and vicious jokes were made within the group, all proceeded by raucous laughter. I laughed at some of them too so they wouldn’t suspect the truth that was melting me.

Dear God, please don’t let me be anything other than straight.

I brought a woman to a social event. I really liked this woman. I was very attracted to her. You see, I’m attracted to men, but I’m also very much attracted to women. Some friends we were with began joking about how we were all probably secretly bisexual. She turned to me and laughed, “there is no way I would ever date someone who was like that.” My heart bore its way into my stomach, and I did my best to maneuver the discussion elsewhere.

Dear God, please don’t let me be anything other than straight.

I was at dinner with some close friends. “I’m pretty sure those guys over there are gay,” one of them said, motioning to two men who were laughing together at another table. “It’s so weird and unnatural and I don’t think I’ll ever understand how people can be like that.” I assured them I didn’t understand it either.

Dear God, please don’t let me be anything other than straight.

Read the rest at Single Dad Laughing.