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 Post subject: Re: Coming out, GLBT
PostPosted: Sat Jun 27, 2015 7:50 am 
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Parents of silenced Longmont valedictorian still support school
By Charlie Brennan
29 May 2015

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The parents of a Longmont charter school valedictorian who was barred from giving a graduation speech in which he planned to reveal that he was gay expressed no intention Friday of pursuing the issue further.

And, with media attention coming in from across the nation, Evan Young chose not to participate in a Friday news conference addressing the Twin Peaks Charter Academy High School controversy, leaving it to his mother and father to handle the spotlight. "Evan might have reached his comfort level on this," said his mother, Alise Curry, speaking outside the offices of LGBT advocacy group Out Boulder in downtown Boulder. "He's a shy kid."

Young, 18, was the valedictorian of his class of about 30 students, with a 4.5 GPA and scholarship to Rutgers University. He was denied the opportunity at the last minute to give his speech — or be honored in any way — at his school's May 16 graduation ceremony.

The school maintains that the decision was made when Young failed to resubmit his speech, as required, with the edits recommended by Principal BJ Buchmann. Young and his father maintain that he did resubmit a revised version — having made requested changes such as removing two classmates' names — but that he was nevertheless axed from the graduation ceremony due to his insistence at revealing his sexuality.

Additionally, both Young and his father, Don Young, said Buchmann outed the young man as gay in a phone call the principal made to Don Young several days before the commencement event. "I'm a physician, and patient privacy is integral to our daily experience," Curry said Friday. "You never, ever reveal information about an adult to anyone without their consent, unless they are a danger to others — which I think we can agree that he was not.

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Evan Young, 18, valedictorian of his Twin Peaks Charter Academy senior class, poses near the high school entrance Thursday. (David R. Jennings / Staff Photographer)

"Mr. Buchmann outed Evan to us, which was not the way Evan wanted it to happen." Young's parents expressed no interest in exploring whether the principal's actions violated any aspect of the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act protecting the privacy of student education records, nor in pursuing any other legal action. "No, we would never go there," Don Young said. A spokeswoman for the U.S. Department of Education in Washington, D.C., on Friday was not able to discuss any potential FERPA implications for Evan Young's situation.

Although the teen chose not to be at Friday's news conference, he did provide a statement to be read for him by his father. His statement has also been posted to the Out Boulder website. "I'm not angry or bitter, and my frustration at being prevented from speaking at my graduation has largely subsided," his statement read in part. "I love my school, and I want nothing to happen to it save that which will improve it in the long run."

Young's parents on Friday also voiced a tone of conciliation toward the school, where Don Young formerly served on the board of directors. "We are unconditionally supportive of our child," Alise Curry said. "We are also supportive of Twin Peaks charter school. "The teachers are just outstanding, and it is a very special group of kids that are actually very accepting, and Evan loved it there. We don't have any regrets, ever, about sending him to school at Twin Peaks."

Young is expected to present his speech, belatedly, at an Out Boulder fundraiser at a private home Sunday night in Boulder. Young's parents spoke of him with great pride Friday. "I think he's the bravest kid in the world," his mother said.

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Don Young, left, and Alise Curry, parents of Evan Young, speak to the media outside of the Out Boulder headquarters in Boulder on Friday.

Source: Daily Camera, Boulder, Colorado.

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 Post subject: Re: Coming out, GLBT
PostPosted: Sat Jun 27, 2015 12:03 pm 
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'I'm gay': Longmont valedictorian gives rejected graduation speech at Out Boulder
By Amy Bounds
31 May 2015

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Twin Peak Charter School graduate Evan Young reads his valedictorian speech at Out Boulder's "Garden Party" awards ceremony in Boulder. Young read what was to be his address to his graduating class on Sunday. Twin Peaks barred him from giving the speech in which he planned to reveal that he was gay. (Jonathan Castner / Daily Camera)

Evan Young, a Longmont charter school valedictorian who earlier this month was barred from giving a graduation speech in which he planned to reveal that he was gay, instead gave his speech today to a wildly supportive crowd.

A nervous and somewhat reluctant Young donned a cape and gave the speech at an Out Boulder awards ceremony at a private home in Boulder. "I'm gay," he said to enthusiastic cheers. "That's what I am." He went on to say that he shouldn't have to apologize for who he is, but instead expected his classmates to continue to overlook differences, just as they had in the past with other issues.

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Twin Peak Charter School graduate Evan Young is hugged by Twin Peaks teacher Dallin Witt after Witt introduced Young. Young read his valedictorian speech at Out Boulder's "Garden Party" awards ceremony Sunday in Boulder. Twin Peaks barred him from giving the speech in which he planned to reveal that he was gay. (Jonathan Castner / Daily Camera)

"We can still be friends, even if we seriously disagree with each other," he said before ending his speech with exhortations to hug someone who's different than you.

Young, 18, was the valedictorian of his class of about 30 students at Twin Peaks Charter Academy, with a 4.5 GPA and scholarship to Rutgers University. He was denied the opportunity at the last minute to give his speech — or be honored in any way — at his school's May 16 graduation ceremony.

The school maintains that the decision was made when Young failed to resubmit his speech, as required, with the edits recommended by Principal BJ Buchmann. But Young and his father say that he did resubmit a revised version — having made requested changes such as removing two classmates' names — but that he was nevertheless axed from the graduation ceremony due to his insistence at revealing his sexuality.

On Sunday at the Out Boulder event, Young was introduced by Twin Peaks physics teacher Dallin Witt, who said what happened to Young shows that homophobia is still rampant. "Evan Young's story has truly resonated with people," said Witt, who is leaving the school. "He was not honored before, but now is our chance to do just that."

Young's speech highlighted his sense of humor. He joked that a "B" in art didn't count in his quest for all "As" since "art isn't a real class." He also thanked Coca-Cola for providing "delicious caffeine," then noted that he wasn't getting any monetary benefit from promoting Coke. He added that "unlike Hilary Clinton, I don't make millions of dollars for flapping my lips." In response, an audience member yelled out, "Not yet." He ended his speech by sharing his secrets, including a hatred of homework, not taking notes in class and only reading half of "Crime and Punishment." But the biggest secret of all, he said, is that he's gay.

After his speech, his mother, Alise Curry, said she knew the speech well but "it was really great to hear it coming out of his lips."

Young also was awarded commendations by state Rep. Jonathan Singer, D-Longmont, and U.S. Rep. Jared Polis, D-Boulder. Polis praised Young for spotlighting the issue, saying he wants to "make sure this is the last time somebody like Evan will have to go through what he had to go through."

Mardi Moore, Out Boulder's executive director, also used Young's experience to talk about the continued need for advocacy. She said he only agreed to go public because he wanted to increase support for the LGBTQ community and push the school to become more accepting. "I couldn't be prouder of the young man," she said.

Source: Denver Post.

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 Post subject: Re: Coming out, GLBT
PostPosted: Mon Jul 13, 2015 5:47 am 
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South Bend mayor: Why coming out matters
17 June 2015

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South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg. SBT File Photo

Editor's note: South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg wrote this essay, which was published on the Tribune's Voices page.

Any day now, the Supreme Court will issue a decision on same-sex marriage that will directly affect millions of Americans.

It comes at a time of growing public acceptance and support for equal rights. But no matter what the Court does, issues of equality are hardly settled across the country. Today it remains legal in most parts of Indiana (though not South Bend) to fire someone simply for being gay, and bullying still contributes to tragically high suicide rates among LGBT teens.

Still, our country is headed in a clear overall direction, and swiftly. Today 57 percent of Americans support same-sex marriage; just 15 years ago, the reverse was true.

Experiences with friends or family members coming out have helped millions of Americans to see past stereotypes and better understand what being gay is — and is not. Being gay isn’t something you choose, but you do face choices about whether and how to discuss it. For most of our history, most Americans had no idea how many people they knew and cared about were gay.

My high school in South Bend had nearly a thousand students. Statistically, that means that several dozen were gay or lesbian. Yet when I graduated in 2000, I had yet to encounter a single openly LGBT student there. That’s far less likely to be the case now, as more students come to feel that their families and community will support and care for them no matter what. This is a tremendously positive development: young people who feel support and acceptance will be less likely to harm themselves, and more likely to step into adulthood with mature self-knowledge.

I was well into adulthood before I was prepared to acknowledge the simple fact that I am gay. It took years of struggle and growth for me to recognize that it’s just a fact of life, like having brown hair, and part of who I am. Putting something this personal on the pages of a newspaper does not come easy. We Midwesterners are instinctively private to begin with, and I’m not used to viewing this as anyone else’s business.

But it’s clear to me that at a moment like this, being more open about it could do some good. For a local student struggling with her sexuality, it might be helpful for an openly gay mayor to send the message that her community will always have a place for her. And for a conservative resident from a different generation, whose unease with social change is partly rooted in the impression that he doesn’t know anyone gay, perhaps a familiar face can be a reminder that we’re all in this together as a community.

Whenever I’ve come out to friends and family, they’ve made clear that they view this as just a part of who I am. Their response makes it possible to feel judged not by sexual orientation but by the things that we ought to care about most, like the content of our character and the value of our contributions.

Being gay has had no bearing on my job performance in business, in the military, or in my current role as mayor. It makes me no better or worse at handling a spreadsheet, a rifle, a committee meeting, or a hiring decision. It doesn’t change how residents can best judge my effectiveness in serving our city: by the progress of our neighborhoods, our economy, and our city services.

We’re moving closer to a world in which acceptance is the norm. This kind of social change, considered old news in some parts of the country, is still often divisive around here. But it doesn’t have to be. We’re all finding our way forward, and things will go better if we can manage to do it together. In the wake of the disastrous “Religious Freedom Restoration Act” episode here in Indiana earlier this year, we have an opportunity to demonstrate how a traditional, religious state like ours can move forward. If different sides steer clear of name-calling and fear-mongering, we can navigate these issues based on what is best about Indiana: values like respect, decency, and support for families — all families.

Like most people, I would like to get married one day and eventually raise a family. I hope that when my children are old enough to understand politics, they will be puzzled that someone like me revealing he is gay was ever considered to be newsworthy. By then, all the relevant laws and court decisions will be seen as steps along the path to equality. But the true compass that will have guided us there will be the basic regard and concern that we have for one another as fellow human beings — based not on categories of politics, orientation, background, status or creed, but on our shared knowledge that the greatest thing any of us has to offer is love.

Source: South Bend Tribune, Indiana.

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 Post subject: Re: Coming out, GLBT
PostPosted: Fri Jul 24, 2015 7:00 pm 
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Pro wrestler ‘Money’ Matt Cage comes out as gay, apologizes to women everywhere
23 June 2015
by Greg Hernandez

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'Sorry, ladies. I'm officially pulling myself off of the market. Don't hate me too bad'

The pro wrestler known as ‘Money’ Matt Cage has come out publicly as gay in a Facebook post.

The athlete, whose real name is Matt Hullum, had previously identified himself as bisexual to friends beginning in late 2013 but now confesses that is not the case.

‘I have no real intentions of pursuing females at this stage of my life,’ he writes in a post titled Here Goes Nothing. ‘I still find beautiful women beautiful. I don’t think that’ll ever change. But I think that to continue to claim something that’s not true is just continuing a streak dishonesty and I don’t want that. Sorry, ladies. I’m officially pulling myself off of the market. Don’t hate me too bad.’

Hullum, who lives outside Chicago, already feels like a weight has been lifted off his shoulders. ‘I truly have nothing to hide anymore,’ he writes. ‘I spent the majority of my life lying, hiding and depressed because I felt like I couldn’t truly be who I wanted to be and live freely as I saw fit. I had to act and that’s not me. I, nor anyone else, should have to do that.’

He decided to go public because of speculation that was going behind his back. ‘I felt that it would just be best if I silence everyone and told the truth publicly,’ he writes. ‘Now, nobody has to suspect or assume what I do behind closed doors.’

Source: GayStarNews.

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 Post subject: Re: Coming out, GLBT
PostPosted: Fri Jul 24, 2015 7:04 pm 
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After being outed, college rower forges his own path
By Chris Kelley
June 24, 2015

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Chris Kelley's coming out in the macho world of rowing was non-traditional, but he has persevered to create safe athletic spaces at Ithaca.

First thing you should know about me is that I’m not the binge-drinking type — blame my puritanical upbringing, I guess. But there I was, my mouth stuffed with whipped cream, vodka, and chocolate sauce — some girl jumped up and down in a little black dress. She screamed, "Take it, bitch!" She was some sort of Norwegian goddess, thin like a model or an expensive IKEA candlestick. So I swallowed like a good freshman boy. I was at a crew party, and, admittedly, slightly underdressed, misunderstanding the "formal attire" mandate as suspenders over a flannel in a vain attempt to be straight-boy-lumberjack-hot (and failing miserably).

I was next to my friend Chloë — she’s gorgeous, her body is littered with tattoos, most from pop-punk bands. Her hair was streaked with blue, like Kool-Aid birthed itself from her nape. She was next in line for the chocolate-vodka-whipped-cream thingy, and she was slightly impatient. "Hurry up!" I frowned, my mouth on fire from the alcohol. IKEA Goddess came up to me and pointed to Chloë. "This your girlfriend?" I shake my head. "Umm…"

Chloë wiped her lips with the back of her muscled forearm. "We’re just friends." "Ohmigodd, no… are you… are you, like, gay?" And before I knew it, IKEA Goddess disappeared into the party, whispering about my lil’ gay secret, spreading that shit like Nutella.

My name is Chris Kelley, and I’ve always sorta known I was different. I like athletic men in the bedroom sense. At 15 I was gay, severely in the closet, and attending public school — and anyone who’s different is the target for bullying. To protect myself, I buried the gay under flannels, mom jeans, and Converse high-tops. And lots of denial.

Around the same time, I stumbled across a pamphlet for a learn-to-row summer camp in the heart of Pittsburgh. After years of trying to force me to play baseball, I told my parents that this sport seemed new and exciting and different. "Maybe I could be, like, OK at it," I repeated under my breath, like a soothing mantra or something. The first time I sat in a boat — my ass contouring to the hard wooden seat that squeezed when weight was applied — was like getting glasses after spending adolescence blind and confused. I felt safe.

I rowed all through high school and chose to continue rowing at Ithaca College, studying film at the amazing Roy H. Park School of Communications. I knew I didn't really want to be out — it was easier to have a secret than to be "that one gay kid." Admittedly, I still feel like there’s something wrong about me for being gay — so frequently, gays are seen as the lesser. We’re portrayed by the media as effeminate purse-dogs for the soy-latte-drinking white women of the world, and coming to a new school, I had no interest in having an effeminate target on my back in a sport that demands an intense amount of physicality. Don’t get me wrong, there’s absolutely nothing wrong with femininity (or masculinity, for that matter). This being said, however, the frat-bro culture of crew demands a sense of hypermasculinity, so if you can't pull a good time while looking like Hercules, you might as well take your training bra and sit on the sidelines.

When I was outed at that party — and then to the head-coach by a super-macho, uncomfortably aggressive rower, just so the coach knows how to "deal with me" — I felt the eyes of the team looking at me like I was some sort of sad freak who likes butt-sex. (In reality, the head-coach said that me being gay was a "non-issue"). I was treated differently by my teammates because of my sexual orientation. A lot of the upperclassmen varsity rowers looked down on me as if I’m some sort of other. They still said "fag" — and most of the time, not in the cutesy 'Oh, it’s totally OK to use it because I have a gay friend' way (note: also unacceptable). All of my flannel-wearing, straight-acting, closet-living was for nothing.

So I decided to own my sexuality. There was no use running from it anymore — especially since everyone already knew. I remember sitting in a movie theater a day before leaving for Christmas break and sending out a mass Facebook message, quoting ‘She-Wolf’ and saying, "…if you don’t like the fact that I’m gay, get over yourself." I decided I was going to be a powerful rower — I was going to prove all my slightly homophobic varsity teammates wrong. I was going to make something of myself. I thought maybe if I could prevent at least one other athlete from being outed to their team, it would be worth it.

For the most part, Ithaca College is a champion for LGBTQ+ student rights. There are four niche organizations on campus created to be "safe-spaces" for members of our community. We have a drag ball, gay theater, an amazingly comprehensive resource room, and free, confidential STI testing. The only thing that Ithaca College lacks is a comprehensive "safe space" for LGBTQ+-identifying athletes.

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Chris Kelley, second from left, with Ithaca teammates.

My sophomore year, my friend Kyle and I founded the Ithaca College Athlete Ally, the first collegiate branch of the international organization that works to reduce homophobia and transphobia in sports. I figured it’s a great platform to restructure the men’s crew team, transforming the team’s dialogue away from micro-aggressions (thinking it’s acceptable to demonize someone for their sexuality through hurtful rhetoric) and towards a culture of inclusivity. I didn't want someone who identifies on the LGBTQ+ spectrum to be turned off from rowing at Ithaca College just because the team has some hate-spewing bros thinking it’s perfectly acceptable to bully someone just because they're insecure about their own masculinity.

Admittedly, we started small, talking with the two head coaches about the importance of respect. We introduced the concept that the boathouse should be a safe-space for everyone to be included. The team needed to be strong and not divided; making fun of someone’s sexual orientation ruins the team environment where you’re only as strong as your weakest rower. Slowly, it started to work. Less people thought it was acceptable to say "fag." Even now, I don't want to take all the credit — maybe, the team just realized they shouldn’t be homophobic dicks or something.

Ithaca College crew is an amazing example of what happens when you decide to speak up. Too frequently, our voices are silenced by people who spew their bigotry like toxic fumes — and it’s especially hurtful in sports, where hyper-masculinity seems to be the only way. We need to be heard. We need to change the dialogue away from thinking that being gay is synonymous with weakness. We are not weak.

Since being outed and working with Athlete Ally, the culture on the crew team has shifted. There’s an amazing sense of inclusivity, that everyone from any walk of life is welcome and appreciated. Every day, we come to practice to pull hard, and our sexual identities are checked at the door. After a while, I didn’t feel like an other — I wasn’t "that one gay kid." I felt comfortable in my spandex.

I remember getting an invite to a team barbecue this past spring. It was after a long day of races, and one of my friends had some of the team over for food and Frisbee. I was standing under a tree, wearing short-shorts that showed off a PG-13 amount of thigh and butt, watching upperclassmen struggle with corn-hole. One of my senior friends, Matt — we’ve been in the same boat for two years, he’s lanky like a knife and just as sharp — shambled over to me, gripping a beer in one hand, a smile plastered on his face. "How’s your love life?" he asked. With that one question, I knew that being gay was no longer some sort of issue, that if I brought up dating a man, the conversation wouldn't devolve into butt-sex jokes or questions on how to prep girls for anal. I felt like I had made it.

Rowing is always going to be physically demanding and unbelievably taxing. You’re always going to have to overcome obstacles, push past the pain and then push harder. This past spring season was unbelievably rough — I never was in the same boat twice, I worked my ass off, lifted extra, pushed myself to the breaking point… and then some. This past May, my work paid off, and I crossed the finish line at Lake Quinsigamond, finishing third overall at the Eastern College Athletic Conference regatta in Worcester, Mass. The bronze medal I won was the first varsity medal for Ithaca College at ECACs since 2008.

And I did it as a gay man.

Source: Outsports.

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 Post subject: Re: Coming out, GLBT
PostPosted: Fri Jul 24, 2015 7:32 pm 
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US soccer pro whose career was cut short by stress of the closet comes out as gay
24 June 2015
by Greg Hernandez

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Matt Hatzke

He played with David Beckham and against Robbie Rogers but the stress of being a closeted gay man led Matt Hatzke to walk away from pro soccer just as his career was getting started.

‘ … I felt I had to leave soccer to sort out my personal life and get things right in my head. I truly believed that I could never come out as gay while playing professional soccer,’ Hatzke wrote in a first-person account posted on Outsports Wednesday (24 June).

Hatzke had been drafted by the Los Angeles Galaxy in 2008 then traded to the San Jose Earthquakes. That year, his team pulled an upset win over the eventual league champions Columbus Crew whose roster included a still-closeted Rogers.

‘What should have been a great night celebrating one of our rare wins that season turned out to be a depressing nightmare,’ Hatzke writes. ‘With teammates razzing me to talk to this woman and that woman, I turned to my drink and imbibed heavily to avoid confrontation.’ It’s a scenario similar to that experienced by Rogers, the first openly gay player in the history of Major League Soccer.

When Hatzke was let go by The Earthquakes, he had opportunities to play for teams in Vancouver or Portland but instead walked away from the game and enroll in dental school. He continued to struggle personally but things began to turn around for Hatzke when Rogers came out two years ago, briefly retired, then returned to the sport and has since been a member of LA Galaxy.

‘The impact Rogers and the stories of other athletes had on me was profound,’ he writes. ‘Without them I may still be drowning my sorrows in the beer of straight bars. I know other athletes’ stories helped me immensely, so I am sharing mine here to help the next guy find acceptance and happiness.’

Hatzke has had a boyfriend for two years and is practicing as a dentist. ‘Life got so much better for me after I came out to myself, my friends and my family. If I have one regret it’s that I didn’t live my life and share the real me with my teammates when I had the chance.’

Source: GayStarNews.

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 Post subject: Re: Coming out, GLBT
PostPosted: Tue Jul 28, 2015 5:20 am 
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Gareth Thomas reveals depth of his suicidal thoughts as he struggled with coming out
26 June 2015
by David Hudson

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L-R: Gareth Thomas, Clifford Chance partner Narind Singh and Maggi Hambling. Photo: David Hudson

Some might say that it would take a lot to move a roomful of hardened lawyers to tears, but that’s precisely what rugby legend Gareth Thomas did last night as guest of honor at Clifford Chance’s headquarters in London.

Thomas, who came out in 2010, was invited to speak at an event to mark the launch of the annual Clifford Chance Pride art show. Arcus, the organization’s global LGBT and allies network, chose Thomas because of his experience of coming out in the macho world of rugby, and because Clifford Chance is the ‘official law firm’ for the 2015 Rugby World Cup.

Thomas took to the lectern in the company’s in-house auditorium and spoke movingly about his upbringing and the impact that trying to stay in the closet had on his life and mental health. He recounted how tough life had sometimes been as a child. The son of a miner, he had vivid memories of experiencing Christmas during the 1984 miner’s strike, when the only gift his parents had been able to give him was his father’s old mining lamp.

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Adam and Adam

Growing up in Bridgend, he discovered his passion for sport early in life, and threw himself into rugby – often spending hours in training and re-playing the moves of games again and again in order to hone his skills. The hard work paid off, resulting in an international sporting career that exceeded his wildest dreams.

However, inside, he was a mess; living a lie and terrified of anyone finding out his secret. At his lowest point, he told the assembled audience, he found himself sitting on the edge of a freezing cold swimming pool, a half-drunk bottle of vodka in one hand and a bottle of pills in the other, hoping that one or both would give him ‘the courage to sink to the bottom. On another occasion, he would find himself walking along cliff tops, ‘hoping that the next gust of wind might blow me off the edge.’

Thomas knew that he was gay, but it took him many years to accept the fact, and more still before he felt able to reveal his secret to his family – or his then wife. Asked by a member of the audience whether he had thought about calling the Samaritans, Thomas said that his own fear – and the fact that he had worked with the helpline Childline – dissuaded him. ‘I had a big fear they would know who I was from my voice. It was a secret I would not take any risk for. If I had, I would probably have been stronger quicker.’

Thomas’ own voice faltered as he recounted how his parents went quiet after he told them that he was gay. Several weeks passed without it being mentioned again, until one day they summoned him to their house, where he found the family’s best glasses set out on the table. My mum sent me to the kitchen to get the Champagne … then my dad said he wanted to raise a toast to my future life.’ His parents had accepted the fact that he was gay; it gave him the courage to tell others, and eventually reveal all to the world.

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Screaming Perky‘

He said that he had felt moved to write his recent autobiography, Proud, for anyone who wanted to find out his life story – and not just ‘a journalist’s view on it.’ Acknowledging that it’s not only sportspeople that find it hard to come out, but also those in the corporate world, Thomas hoped that his story might inspire others, and to make others think twice before choosing to live a lie. ‘I believe we all have the right to control our own destiny. But if you lie, you give up that right.’

His words obviously stuck home with the assembled crowd – made up largely of Clifford Chance employees, other LGBT network members, politicians and artists and their guests – and they gave him a thunderous round of applause at the end. Afterwards, the party moved up to the 30th floor of the Canary Wharf building to enjoy drinks and this year’s art show.

Curated by artist Michael Petry, the theme of this year’s show – now in its eighth year – was Pioneers. Artists featured include Christopher Brown, David Edmond, Duggie Fields, Nancy Fouts, Maggi Hambling, Christopher Hobbs, David Ivie, Andrew Logan and Mandy McCartin.

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Maggi Hambling

As the introduction the show explains, besides all being based in London at some stage in their career, another thing the artists all have in common is a shared drive to make work, ‘often against the tide of art world fashions and, in the early years, against social approval.’ Hambling, Logan and Fields were among those who were able to attend the launch event.

Similar Pride art shows are taking place at the same time in Clifford Chance’s headquarters in New York and – for the first time – in Amsterdam and Hong Kong. The annual Clifford Chance art shows have become something of a Pride season highlight, and are open to the public by appointment. If the Amsterdam, New York and Hong Kong exhibitions are all as strong as the London one, it’s definitely worth taking the trouble to make a booking. As an added bonus, the London office also offers the most incredible 360-degree views over the capital.

Images – from top to bottom: Adam and Adam (after Cranach) by Nancy Fouts, Screaming Perky by Mandy McCartin, and Maggi Hambling by Andrew Logan.
Source: GayStarNews.

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Rugby League star Keegan Hirst becomes first Brit player to come out as gay
By Patrick Hill
15 August 2015

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Finally free: Batley Rugby League player Keegan Hirst says he feels like he's letting out a long breath

Rugby League player Keegan Hirst is the first British professional in the code to openly say he is gay.

Respected prop Keegan, 27, reveals the secret torment of dealing with his sexuality while carving out a career in one of the world’s most macho sports. Speaking exclusively to the Sunday Mirror, the dad of two tells of the moment he finally found the words to explain to his wife the reason they could no longer be together. And he talks emotionally of the support he got, not only from her but also from his rugby team-mates.

The 6ft 4in captain of West ­Yorkshire side Batley Bulldogs said: “At first I couldn’t even say ‘I’m gay’ in my head, let alone out loud. Now I feel like I’m letting out a long breath that I’ve held in for a long time.”

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Speaking for the first time about coming to terms with being gay, Keegan adds: “I had a wife and kids. I’ve been a builder, doorman, worked in factories – I play rugby. I tick every macho box. How could I be gay? I’m from Batley for goodness sake. No one is gay in Batley.” And he reveals: “The only time I felt free of the torment was when I stepped on the rugby pitch. Now I feel free.”

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Keegan Hirst: He only told his wife he was gay a few weeks ago

Keegan hopes his decision to be open will help others in the sport who might be fighting with their emotions. The Yorkshireman, who started his career at Bradford Bulls Academy, said he knew he had to be honest with his wife after he realised she blamed herself for their marriage break-up. He said: “I finally told my wife I was gay a few weeks ago. She blamed herself when we ­separated but I knew she’d done nothing wrong. I couldn’t bear it any more, the guilt of it all, of her not knowing why I left. It was eating me up. I went to her and asked if I could have a word. My stomach was in knots. We sat at the kitchen table and I said, ‘There’s something I need to tell you’. I couldn’t get the words out, I felt like I was going to be sick. But I managed to say it. She didn’t say anything at first. I explained why and how I felt, it was very emotional. We were both in tears. She didn’t ask a lot of questions, but she was supportive. She was totally blind-sided. She’d had absolutely no idea. It was incredibly tough, but for me it was a weird situation because it also felt liberating.”

For now, he says, all they have told their two children, aged seven and two, is that they have split up. He said: “We haven’t told the kids yet, they’re too young to understand. I’m not sure how I’d explain it.”

Keegan says he first felt he might be gay as a teenager. He said: “I had ­girlfriends on and off, but at about 15, I started feeling attracted to guys too. I was having conflicting feelings, but it was something I suppressed. It wasn’t the done thing to admit it.”

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Tough: Batley Rugby League player Keegan Hirst has only told his two children their parents have split up

His mum Wendy brought him and his two younger siblings up on a working-class council estate in Batley. His dad had walked out on him and his mother before Keegan was born. He started playing rugby at 11, and quit sixth-form college to pursue his rugby dreams, starting on a ­scholarship at Huddersfield before joining ­Bradford Bulls’ under-18 academy.

He said: “By the time I was 18, I was in complete denial, hoping it would go away. It was inconceivable to tell anybody how I was feeling. I didn’t have it right in my own head, so how could I tell anybody? Society dictates that when you’re a 16-year-old lad you have a girlfriend, you sleep with her and that’s how it is. Especially as a rugby player and a lad who grew up on a council estate. You go out, go drinking, carrying on – that’s what you do. I convinced myself, no way could I be gay, it was inconceivable.”

He was working as a doorman when he met the girl he was later to marry, who then worked behind the bar. They began dating when he was 19, and had a daughter together a year later. They wed in Wakefield in November 2011, and their son was born in 2012.

Keegan said: “The day I married her I thought I was going to be with her for the rest of my life. I loved her and was glad I was marrying her.” But his turmoil was playing havoc with his home life.

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Tough guy: Batley Rugby League player Keegan Hirst says he has had a lot of support from team-mates

He said: “I was playing matches on a Sunday and then I’d go out and get in some ridiculous states. I was drinking anything and everything, pints, shots. I was drinking 20 pints plus every time. I’d roll in at 5.30 on a Monday and have to be up for work at six. My wife would ask why was I out till all hours, who was I with, what was I doing, where had I been? Sometimes I couldn’t answer because I just couldn’t remember – but I do know I was always faithful, I’ve never cheated on her. It wasn’t that I wasn’t happy with her, it was that I wasn’t happy with myself.”

He adds: “I feel bad for what I’ve put her through, but hopefully it’s a case of better late than never. She’s got the chance now to get on with her life, to find someone new to be happy with. She deserves that.”

At his lowest, Keegan says, he considered taking his own life. “On the worst days I’d think, ‘I can’t do this, I’d rather be dead than for it all to come out.’ I never got as far as actually tying a noose or having tablets in my hand. But I thought how I would do it, where I would do it, when I would do it. Thankfully I have friends and family I love and was able to talk myself out of it.”

After years of battling his feelings Keegan finally started to come to terms with his sexuality earlier this year. He says: “One day, a few months ago, I just thought, ‘You know what? Actually, this is who I am. I’m gay. I felt I could finally be honest with myself. I haven’t been out as a gay guy on the pull yet, so that’ll be a new experience. I don’t know yet how these things work.”

Keegan has played 199 professional games for Batley, Featherstone and Dewsbury, including two Grand Finals. Find out more about him in our Keegan Hirst profile. On Sunday, he will play his first match as an openly gay professional rugby player, when he captains his team against local rivals Dewsbury.

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Keegan Hirst: He is finally coming to terms with his feelings

He knows he may be the target of taunts from opposition fans and players, but says he can handle any abuse. He said: “I’m comfortable in my own skin, probably for the first time ever. I’m not withholding anything and there’s not that sense of dread. I suppose the stereotype of a rugby player is, you’re supposed to be tough, you’re supposed to be macho. I thought I’d be disowned by friends and family but I haven’t been. People keep saying I’m brave – I don’t feel brave. I’m just talking about me. There might be other players in the same position I was. If there are I’d tell them to just be honest with themselves. The support from my team-mates and other rugby league players has really surprised me, it’s all been positive. These are tough blokes. We go out on the field together and it’s 26 blokes knocking seven shades out of each other. But on the other side of it, you go through blood, sweat and tears together – and they’ve been there for me when I needed them most.”

Rugby still has almost no openly gay professionals. Welsh Rugby Union star Gareth Thomas came out in December 2009, aged 35. He switched to Rugby League the following year. In 1995, Australian Rugby League player Ian Roberts, then aged 30, became the first high-profile player in the world to publicly reveal he was gay.

Meanwhile, American Football lineman Michael Sam, 25 - the first gay player to win an NFL place after coming out in 2014 - said yesterday he is quitting the sport because of the "difficult year".

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Brave: Batley Rugby League player Keegan Hirst knows he may be the target of taunts from fans and other players

In February 2013 former Leeds United footballer Robbie Rogers announced he was gay - and he remains the only openly gay professional footballer playing. A year later former Germany international Thomas Hitzlsperger became the first Premier League player to reveal he was gay. He waited until after his retirement, claiming it would have been impossible to come out while he was still playing.

But the recent increase in the number of sportsmen coming out suggests the perceived taboo is gradually being broken down - and Keegan's honesty is another step on that journey.

Source: Mirror UK

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Freestyle skier comes out, says Sochi wasn't right time
22 October 2015
By EDDIE PELLS and PAT GRAHAM

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In this Wednesday, Oct. 21, 2015, photo, Gus Kenworthy, a freestyle skier who won a silver medal in Sochi, poses in his home in Denver. (AP Photo/David Zalubowski)

DENVER (AP) -- When Gus Kenworthy would let his mind wander into how his perfect Olympics might play out, he pictured a certain scene.

He'd land his best tricks on his final run, win a medal and then - the capper - jump into the stands, ski boots and all, to share a big hug and kiss with the man who meant so much to him. "That would've been an amazing way to come out," said Kenworthy, the freestyle skier who won the silver medal in Sochi.

But the timing, to say nothing of the country, wasn't quite right to tell the world he was gay. And so Kenworthy left Russia in February 2014 known best as the compassionate daredevil who adopted several stray dogs he came across in the mountains - and as the man who was part of an historic U.S. sweep of the first Olympic ski slopestyle contest.

Because he wasn't ready, the journey to Sochi was far less perfect than it could've been for the 24-year-old from Telluride, Colorado, who on Thursday, in interviews with The Associated Press and ESPN The Magazine, revealed to the public that he is gay. He joined other high-profile athletes, including football player Michael Sam, recently retired NBA player Jason Collins and Los Angeles Galaxy soccer player Robbie Rogers, to come out. "I felt like I was already being so courageous with my body and my actions and the things I was doing in order to try to win and be the best," Kenworthy said at his home in Denver. "Then, I was being such a coward in this other way, where I wouldn't let anyone know. So they were battling each other. I'm excited where those two things can go hand in hand."

As young as age 5, Kenworthy felt he was different. Growing up in a mountain town with about 2,000 residents and only 50 kids in the school gives a boy who knows he's gay few places to hide. He threw himself into skiing to show he was every bit as tough and brave as anyone else. But there was no denying he felt conflicted. He spoke of severe depression, thoughts of suicide, the internal battle of how to "live authentically and not feel like I need to hide anymore."

Heading into the biggest ski contest of his life, he wasn't all the way there. He hadn't told his parents, or his brothers. And though he had let himself get caught up in the idea of a celebratory kiss with his boyfriend at the bottom of the hill, and the many messages it would send, he knew it couldn't happen. "The idea of kissing my boyfriend at the bottom of my run would've been, in addition to me coming out, a silent f--- you to the anti-gay legislature in place in Russia," he said.

Instead, his post-victory tour involved him being portrayed as the pet-loving heartthrob who brought Olympic glory to his home country. Typical of winning athletes who go on their post-Olympic interview tours, he faced questions about much more than just skiing.

Who is your celebrity crush? Miley Cyrus, Kenworthy lied.

How do you feel about saving all those dogs? He couldn't tell the real story and so he lied again: Couldn't be happier.

Truth was, he was nothing more than a casual fan of Cyrus, and the person who did most of the hard work with the dogs - including staying behind in Russia for more than a month to get them back to the United States - was his boyfriend at the time. "He got zero credit and I was getting asked about it on every show and in every interview," Kenworthy said. Much as the label "Dog Guy" stuck with him long after Sochi, Kenworthy is aware he could be cast, too simply, as the "Gay Skier."

But in the 20 months since his trip to Russia, where debate raged over gay rights and the government's law against gay "propaganda," Kenworthy has become more assured about who he is, both on and off the slopes. He has won a title on the Dew Tour, more World Cup podiums and had a legitimate chance at the overall championship last season until a leg and knee injury ended things early. Relegated to the gym for months of rehab, he finally had the time to crystalize his feelings about whether he was ready to tell the world who he really is. He said he likes the idea of coming out while he's at the top of his game, while people in his sport - especially kids - are paying attention.

"We admire Gus for having the strength to tell the world who he is as a person, and paving the way for others to do the same," said Tiger Shaw, the CEO of U.S. Ski and Snowboard Association.

While the locker-room atmosphere of football or basketball doesn't exist in freestyle skiing, it is still a sport built on a certain brand of devil-may-care machismo. How will a gay skier be received among this cadre of daredevils? For a man who makes a living catapulting off of 70-foot-high ramps, this is a very different sort of leap. "I don't know what the future has in store," Kenworthy said, "but I'm kind of looking forward to it."

Source: AP.

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Water polo star who will compete in Rio Olympics comes out as gay
By Joe Morgan
26 May 2016

A water polo star on Spain’s national team has come out as gay before heading to the Olympics in Rio.

Víctor Gutiérrez, the 25-year-old aquatic athlete from Madrid, came out on the cover of LGBTI website and magazine Shangay. ‘I’m out of the closet in my environment,’ he said, according to a translation of the story. ‘My family knows I’m gay, my friends too. And I’m living in such a positive way with my sexuality that I felt a responsibility to share it with others.’

Gutiérrez felt even though he has never met anyone who judged him on his sexual orientation, he felt as a gay athlete a ‘responsibility to discuss it’. ‘There have been more than 70 homophobic attacks in Madrid so far this year,’ he said. ‘It is a reality that we live in. And there are almost no athletes who are out of the closet. But in my experience, people have changed. As an athlete, my experience has been absolutely positive.’

The water polo star said he came out to his mother when he was 19, and she and all his family have been supportive. ‘I never sat down with the president of my club, the coach or teammates,’ he said, mentioning that when he had a boyfriend (he’s now single) he would just bring him to meet his teammates. ‘In the end, it is my life and I do what I want.’

He added that while he does not know of any other openly LGBTI elite water polo players, he said it would be easier for everyone if a big name in Spanish soccer or basketball were to come out. ‘I hope my coming out serves to break a taboo within the sport,’ he said. ‘You have to be judged not by your sexuality but by your sporting merit.’

Source: Gay Star News

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'Yep, I'm Gay': Happy 20th out anniversary, Ellen DeGeneres
By LEANNE ITALIE
April 27, 2017

NEW YORK (AP) -- With a headline of "Yep, I'm Gay" on the cover of Time magazine and the same declaration on her sitcom, Ellen DeGeneres made history 20 years ago as the first prime-time lead on network TV to come out, capturing the hearts of supporters gay and straight amid a swirl of hate mail, death threats and, ultimately, dark times on and off the screen.

The code-named "The Puppy Episode" of "Ellen" that aired April 30, 1997, was more than just a hit. It was one of those huge cultural "where were you" moments for anybody remotely interested in TV, or the advancement of LGBTQ people working in TV, or who were itching to come out of their closets at home at a still-perilous time.

Variety summed it up this way: "Climaxing a season of swelling anticipation, Ellen Morgan (the bookstore-managing alter ego of Ellen DeGeneres) finally acknowledges her lesbianism tonight in an 'Ellen' hour that represents television's most-hyped coming out since Little Ricky came out of Lucy 44 years ago."

The hype was real, fed by DeGeneres' personal desire to end her secret-keeping at age 38 and to bring her TV character along for the ride. The off-screen act came first in Time by slightly more than two weeks, but "Puppy" was months in the making under lock and key, something that failed to matter when the script leaked and the world then waited.

Why risk it all? Because DeGeneres, one of America's sweethearts then and now, was done with the lying and the hiding. "It became more important to me than my career," she said in a recent interview with the Associated Press. "I suddenly said, 'Why am I being, you know, ashamed of who I am just to be successful and famous in society's eyes?'"

The hate was also real. There was pulpit-pounding from conservatives, including full-page newspaper ads (the late Rev. Jerry Falwell called her "Ellen DeGenerate"). There was nasty mail all around, including some for guest star Oprah Winfrey suggesting that she "go back to Africa." After "Puppy" wrapped, cast, crew and live audience were hustled out of the Burbank, California, studio because of a bomb threat.

Winfrey, who played Ellen's therapist, told the AP she had no clue that "I would get the worst hate mail of my career." She praised DeGeneres for having the courage to produce a "seminal moment for anybody who was hiding behind anything."

The episode was watched by an estimated 44 million viewers. It won an Emmy for writing, a Peabody as a landmark in broadcasting and numerous other accolades. The attention coincided with a new and very public relationship for DeGeneres with her girlfriend at the time, Anne Heche, herself new to the out life.

The following season, DeGeneres' fifth, was the last. It was a failure in terms of ratings. The network took to slapping "adult content" warnings on the show, something DeGeneres knew nothing about ahead of time. The season was bashed by some as unfunny and "too gay," as was the out-and-proud DeGeneres herself as she lived life big with Heche offscreen. Sponsors fled and the show was canceled.

DeGeneres went into a "hole," a deep depression, where she stayed without work for more than three years. Laura Dern, among the guest stars on "Puppy" and happy to be included, didn't work for a year after she played the out love interest to whom Ellen Morgan finally came out. (Both Dern and Winfrey join DeGeneres on Friday on "The Ellen DeGeneres Show" to mark the anniversary).

Ellen Garcia in San Pedro, California, is a gay, 47-year-old office administrator for a mental health nonprofit. She was 27 and out to just close friends and co-workers when she watched. "How you feel about yourself, and how you feel about how society views you, plays a huge factor and that's why this show was so significant, because it brought all those things out," she said. "It made me feel normal."

So what made it the right time for DeGeneres? Well, nothing, she said. "There was every indication that I should not do it. My publicist at the time said, 'Don't do it.' The studio, the network, everyone said (it)," she recalled. "I said, 'You know, look, you may lose a show but you have thousands of other shows revolving through this door that come to you and you'll have another show. This is my career. If I'm willing to lose my career for this, you have to let me do this.'"

The doing wasn't easy. The first draft of "Puppy" was rejected by the show's Disney point person. It took forever for script approval, with "Puppy" finally hitting air as the fourth season's third-to-last show, a full hour as opposed to the usual half-hour. DeGeneres had thrown a bash at her California house for cast members and writers months earlier, at the top of the fourth, declaring then that she wanted to come out, but nobody was sure how it would all play out. "I remember these walks from our offices to the Disney offices to see the big guys," recalled Dava Savel, one of the executive producers and writers. "We walked with her and it was kind of like the Bataan Death March. We were like, 'Ohhh, here we go.' I remember Ellen crying on the way back when Disney finally gave her the OK."

History was made. Friends gathered around TVs. The gay rights advocacy group GLAAD organized watch parties after an ABC affiliate in Alabama declined to air "Puppy."

DeGeneres herself made a spectacular comeback, eventually, now the host of her own daytime talk show and still America's sweetheart at age 59. (President Barack Obama awarded her the nation's highest civilian honor, the Medal of Freedom, last year.) Numerous gay leads followed on TV, yet advocates hope for still more diversity and accuracy in story and character development.

None of that mattered the night of April 30, 1997. Eric Marcus, creator and host of the podcast "Making Gay History" and author of a 2002 collection of oral history of the same name, put it this way: "For everyday people, Ellen made gay OK."

Associated Press television writers Lynn Elber in Los Angeles and Frazier Moore in New York contributed to this report.
Source: AP

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