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Despite sports being an industry dominated by heterosexual men, certain pro athletes are now stepping up to come out and live as their authentic selves.
Major League Baseball (MLB) star TJ House played for a number of teams throughout his career, including the Cleveland Guardians and the Toronto Blue Jays. Despite not feeling ready to come out during his time in the league, House has now shared an emotional post coming out as gay and announcing his engagement.
"I've struggled my entire life with being comfortable in my own skin," House wrote in an Instagram post. "I have purposefully distanced myself from people for the sake of trying to protect myself. It's disheartening how one simple thing can change an individual's opinion of you in a matter of seconds. It has taken me years to wake up every morning and tell myself that you are loved for you, the one that's deep down inside that you've never truly let out. I've been loved my whole life for what I did as a career, and it carried me for the longest time. Eventually, though, it's a bandage that covers a wound that needs fresh air to heal. You have to rip it off at some point if you truly want to get better. Shame has kept me quiet all these years, but Love has finally set me free."
"Today's passage of the Respect for Marriage Act protects us to have the same rights and opportunities that each of you have. It protects the same benefits. It makes us equal to you. It allows Ryan Neitzel and I to come together and create something beautiful. It gives me the confidence to get engaged to the person I love (he said 'Yes!'), to marry them. I have a wonderful fiance, who challenges me daily to become a better person. To live life authentically."
"I'm finally healing, and days like today are what help me continue to grow into the person I've been all along, one I've locked up for 20-plus years. Today, I am Loved," House ended his statement.
Overall, House is the third-ever baseball player to come out after leaving the MLB, following in the footsteps of Glenn Burke and Billy Bean.
Welcome to the family, TJ House!