A closeted college athlete used a series of TikTok videos to connect with others like him and eventually work up the courage to come out in real life. State soccer champion Josh Leafer used the @closeted_fratguy account to post a series of originally anonymous videos asking if there were others who presented as straight but were secretly gay. Leafer told The Sports Kiki he initially just wanted to connect with others and give voice to his inner struggle, but the response and support he received from his videos inspired him to come out to his family and friends.
“When I made the TikTok, I was like, ‘I want to put these qualities out here and just see if there’s anyone else like me, and surprisingly that video got a lot of attention,” he said. It didn’t take long to learn there were “definitely a lot of closeted guys who were a lot like” Leafer.
The responses provided comfort to Leafer, and showed him he wasn’t alone. They also provided him the support he needed to tell the people most important to him. In particular, Leafer struggled with coming out to his father.
“It was the part that I was struggling with the most,” Leafer said, also admitting “once I could get over the fears of telling my dad, I knew I would be on to living my true life.”
But it was still a difficult step to take for Leafer.
“Telling him really scared me, because I don’t want to lose that bond we had,” Leafer said. “Coming out, I felt like I was taking away part of his son.”
Leafer described telling his father as “the part that I was struggling with the most.”
It took a few days for his father to digest the news, but soon the pair realized nothing had changed between the men.
“It took me 20 years to understand who I was as a person, and what being gay meant,” Leafer said. “I expected it take him some time to understand it, too.”
Leafer is still posting videos, but now as an out and happy gay man. His video from last August where he first showed his face to his viewers has gained over 139,000 likes. Not that he’s no longer a closeted frat guy, Leafer is hoping his example will provide the type of encouragement other closeted young people need to live out and proud lives.