While social distancing and quarantine can induce many of us to become creative, dreaming up digital shows and the like, for some it can provide a time for introspection. Such is the case with collegiate basketball coach Matthew T. Lynch, who came out as gay today in an op-ed.
"It's been a little over two weeks since our staff was officially let go at the University of North Carolina-Wilmington," he wrote in the letter, posted to OutSports. "And with the added difficulties of the [ongoing pandemic,] I have begun to realize that I may not have a job in college basketball next year." Lynch has coached both women's and men's teams for a decade at the collegiate level. The 29-year-old was most recently the assistant coach and director of basketball operations at University of North Carolina-Wilmington.
"This is a scary time for everyone and the unknown is always difficult to deal with," he continued. "But I have made a decision to use this time to become completely open and honest with myself and the people around me. I'm gay."
In the letter, Lynch writes of how and why he got into coaching, saying that he had always buried his feelings and thought he would "die with the lie" that he was heterosexual. To that end he didn't talk or talk about his sexuality in hopes that he could just shut that part of his life off. He replaced relationships and a family life with work. The result: he built up internalized homophobia.
"I don’t know why I assumed being gay was wrong, but I tried to just be 'normal' (that is, straight)," he wrote. "But I didn’t realize the effect that would have on my long-term health. Being gay weighed on my mind, day and night, more and more. So I would just work harder at coaching, and bury those thoughts and feelings." He found himself going through periods of depression in the off-season when he wasn't working.
Over time Lynch began to come out to his friends, players, colleagues, and family and "only received positive feedback."
"I think it’s important for me to be publicly out," Lynch continued. "Not only for me and my mental health, but for anyone else out there like me." He went on to say that he could help "normalize being gay" in his profession.
"The goal isn’t to come out of the closet, it’s to eliminate the closet," he wrote.