Wow. Great story over at OutSports by Jim Buzinski about Jallen Messersmith who was raised Mormon (now he’s “ex”), and now plays on a Catholic college basketball team as an openly-gay man. Them there’s a lot of hurdles.
According to OutSports, Messersmith appears to be the first openly gay men’s college basketball player. He really had a great coming out – parents accepted it, then his coach, then his teammates. He was especially worried about his teammates. Outsports explains why:
Despite the reactions from his coaches and Fisher, Messersmith admits he had major anxiety about the whole team hearing he was gay. This stemmed from a discussion in the locker room in his freshman year.
“A year before there was a locker room conversation and one of the guys on the team was having a kid. We discussed if we had a kid and they were gay, what would happen. Things were said like ‘I would try and change them’ or ‘That’s not OK.’ It kind of freaked me out a little bit. I was not sure how they would respond to that kind of thing.”
I’d had a similar experience with my dad. He had made some comment I won’t repeat perhaps a year before coming out to him. It kind of freaked me out about coming out to him at all. But surprisingly, he was pretty good about it. He cried (they all cry), but he accepted it, he loved me, that was that.
What’s interesting about this is the whole issue of bullying, and speech. I think folks on the right would like us to believe the old sticks and stones line about names. Don’t believe it. Words hurt, and have the potential to do damage even if you think the kind of people you’re knocking aren’t among you at the time.
I was rather intrigued by the great comment from his Catholic school, Benedictine College to the LA Times:
“We support Jallen as a Benedictine College student and as a member of the Raven basketball team,” the statement said. “Obviously, it would be inappropriate for us to discuss the private lives of students. As an institution we treat all students with respect and sensitivity.”
Good for them.
But I especially loved this comment left on his Facebook page:
Hey kid I just read your story. I dont know you, but you should know I’m really proud of you and proud to be a Raven. Your courage is commended. As a 2007 football alum, I got your back if you ever need anything don’t be hesitate to ask. Good luck! Jon Jimenez.
It really is a new day.