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Hope for Closeted Athletes


James Nutter shares his story to help other athletes who may be thinking of suicide

Photo of James Nutter via

Though James Nutter's family fully embraced his sexuality, the heavy masculine expectation of his social group clung tightly to his heart. As Cyd Zeigler explains in a story at OutSports, for years James had hid his idenity from everyone; he knew he was attracted to men, but he beat himself up on the inside. He hated himself, his feelings, his life. And because James' teammates were oblivious, they continued to throw around words like 'faggot' and 'fudge-packing' jokes that only made James feel worse about himself and bury himself deeper into depression.

Halfway through his suicide note, however, James realized that his family would hurt as much as he hurt now. They would blame themselves for his actions. He threw down his pen, ran downstairs, and told his parents, "I almost did it. I almost killed myself."

It is a disgusting stereotype that jocks throw around the casual language of homophobic jokes and anti-gay slurs. These choice of words create a hostile and scary atmosphere for athletes who are closeted. Hitting these kinds of anti-gay slams isn't easy, but James hopes that he--as well as other athletes and support systems--can begin to reduce the negativity in the locker room and on the playing field.

"I've come to realize, when you think there's no hope, there really is," James told OutSports. "You may not see it, but it's there. I hope other kids don't feel like they need to hold it in and not tell anyone. It would be cool if every gay athlete felt comfortable enough to come out, if they had no reason to believe people in their life will be hostile."

Read Cyd Zeigler's full story at OutSports here.

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