Coming Out Is Not A Grand Ticker Tape Parade
In the last few years, at the Gay + Lesbian Rowing Federation regatta booths, visitors have wondered if our organization is still necessary? Do LGBTQ+ rowers really need a sense of community, a way to connect and find other, like-minded folks? Look at how open our society has become. These people say: “It’s not an issue anymore. At the secondary school level and at university, no one raises an eyebrow or passes judgement.”
But it is an issue. There are so many people in the rowing community who are burdened with conformance and acceptance. It isn’t just the teammates, although that is the most biting in a person’s mind. It is the worry about what the coach will think, how he/she/they will treat them in practice, in racing for seats, and how the coach may change their view of a person’s potential performance just based on someone who has “come out.” Then there are the parents. Then there are the teachers, the professors, and the hiring managers.
Do we need to treat this person with kid gloves because they came out? Do we have to watch everything we say? Do they need to be treated with deference? Will this person now be another political activist and everything we do on the team will be about equality and the words we use?
If there is one benefit of the Trump years, it has been the revelation that all these presumptive assumptions that the LGBTQ+ community is widely accepted is not true, and the simmering prejudices are revealed once again. To verify that declaration, we look to the news story in the New York Times, today, 11 October 2022, that relayed an audio recording of three Los Angeles City Council members using caustic racial slurs about other council members and constituents. In CALIFORNIA! In LA! Prejudice remains deeply rooted in our lives.
Every person’s conscience is filled with meeting expectations. Rowing is a small part. From there, the perception and expectation of what someone will become has been communicated by friends, family, and co-workers. It may be easy for Tabatha, Sam and Steven but that doesn’t mean it is easy for others.
Coming Out is not the grand ticker tape parade everyone makes it out to be. What follows after can be the most daunting.
Watch this Tiktok video by Barrett D. Carroll. It really says it all.
The Gay + Lesbian Rowing Federation serves to inspirit those in the LGBTQ+ rowing community that we are there, in every aspect of rowing, and that the drive for acceptance and inclusion will continue.