Can You Tell?

How can you tell if someone identifies as BGLTQ? You can't.

How can you tell if someone identifies as BGLTQ? I was a closeted varsity athlete here for two years. While I am no longer on my team, much of my Harvard experience has revolved around the athletic community and its members. Since coming out my sophomore year, life has been pretty awesome. But becoming comfortable with who I am hasn't been easy. I do, indeed, owe quite a lot to Harvard's accepting culture, but like the rest of the world, it is by no means perfect. My friend once said that coming out is often more about other people than yourself and I have found that to be true. I didn't want who I am to embarrass or disappoint people, and I definitely didn't want to make anyone feel uncomfortable.

"Can You Tell?" was inspired by Jeff T. Sheng '02, who has been photographing out BGLTQ high school and college varsity athletes all around the country for the past 10 years through his project "Fearless." I realized I can use my story to help others who are going through what I had already experienced. My story is that of many, and "Can You Tell?" is proof of that. It was created not only to help those who may be struggling with their identities, but also to raise awareness. Change comes slowly in the world of athletics. The court, the field, the locker room—there are many assumptions made in these places, which makes it difficult to discuss sexuality. Raising awareness is a step in creating a more inclusive environment.

BGLTQ athletes exist. We may even be on your team. Be mindful of the language you use in the locker room or in the stands—that gay joke might not seem like a big deal to you, but all it takes is one word to push someone even further into the closet. How can you tell if someone identifies as BGLTQ? You can't.

[Click on the flashgraphic above to read more.]