Reflections On Coming Out Day
We might as well call this National Coming Out Week or National Coming Out Month. On Wednesday, 10 October 2012, the United States Anti-Doping Agency published a scathing report of the rampant and coordinated doping that took place on the US Postal Service cycling team. As the report went public, eight or nine high levels athletes were forced to or felt obligated to come out with their complicity. The admissions sometimes flew in the face of previously steadfast denials of doping.
All of this points to one essential fact: coming out is very often a painful and uncomfortable process. As human beings, we can't help but think or worry what others will think. We are very often in denial about our own suspicions about other's sexual orientation. Not knowing or acknowleding the truth is easier. As rowers, a decision to go public with our sexual orientation might and can cost someone a seat in the boat (yes, it happened this summer in Southern California, when a rower told his boat that he was gay). It can result in isolation at a club (as relayed by a female GLRF member who came out at her club in the San Francisco Bay Area, of all places). At all levels of the sport, there might and will be the uncomfortable silence in the locker room and in the showers.
October is also National Breast Cancer Awareness month and that illustrates a more poignant fact. Your teammates in your boat and at your club are grappling with a myriad of difficult news in their lives: their boyfriend/girlfriend or partner has left them, their parents are getting a divorce, they just found out their HIV status has changed, or that they have been diagnosed with cancer.
The whole process of coming out is awkward for everyone. Straight friends and club acquaintances can feel uncomfortable, either not knowing what to say or not wanting to suddenly give off the wrong cues or be seen by others as having 'suspicious' tendencies if they are 'too accepting.' Maybe what we need in rowing at least, is an International Acceptance Day.
Share your stories of how or when you came out to your crew or boathouse in the GLRF All Oars Network Member Lounge Forum.