Treading Water

College swimming champ says he was kicked off team for being gay

Via Youtube

Two-time NCAA champion swimmer Abrahm DeVine has leveled charges against his former Stanford University swimming coaches, claiming they kicked him off the team because he is gay.

DeVine graduated from Stanford this year, but he was eligible to swim for the team again as a postgrad. He claims the university didn’t invite him back because of his sexuality.

“Plain and simple: There are surface-level reasons I was kicked off the Stanford swim team,” he alleged via Instagram, “but I can tell you with certainty that it comes down to the fact that I am gay.”

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As many of you know, I’m an openly gay swimmer and I am the only one at my level. I want to use this post to call out some of the homophobia that I’ve experienced being an athlete, and encourage everyone to be thoughtful and intentional about changing some of the homophobic aspects of the athletic culture that exists today. While I have many specific examples of micro aggressions and outright aggressions that I’ve experienced, homophobia is ultimately much more than an accumulation of experiences. In fact, it is a denial of experience. While I feel like I’ve tried to convey this to many people, many of whom deny any possibility that they contribute it, I’ve started to ask myself: Why is it my job to educate coaches and athletes at the most resourceful university in the world? I cannot continue to try to engage people in this conversation when there is so much fragility to obscure my humanity and character, so much rhetoric to keep me silent. Everyone says they support me, and yet, for the millionth time, I am the only one speaking up. To my coaches who sport the pride flag on their desk, to the athletes who liked my pride photo on Instagram, I need you to wake up to what’s happening around you. How can you say you support me and my equality? How can you not see how Stanford Swim has treated me and used me over the last 4 years? Am I invisible? Plain and simple: there are surface level reasons I was kicked off the Stanford swim team, but I can tell you with certainty that it comes down to the fact that I am gay. This is a pattern. Homophobia is systematic, intelligently and masterfully designed to keep me silent and to push me out. I am a talented, successful, educated, proud, gay man: I am a threat to the culture that holds sports teams together. I want something to change, because I can’t take it anymore. My story is not unique. There are queer voices everywhere and all you have to do is listen. I am asking, begging for some sort of action. If you are reading this, this post is for you! Gay or straight, swimmer or not. None of us are exempt from homophobia. It is your civil duty to educate yourself. If you choose not to, it is at my expense.

A post shared by Abrahm DeVine (@abrahmdevine) on

“This is a pattern,” DeVine further charged. “Homophobia is systematic, intelligently and masterfully designed to keep me silent and to push me out. I am a talented, successful, educated, proud, gay man: I am a threat to the culture that holds sports teams together.”

He continued, “I want something to change, because I can’t take it anymore. My story is not unique. There are queer voices everywhere and all you have to do is listen. I am asking, begging for some sort of action. If you are reading this, this post is for you! Gay or straight, swimmer or not. None of us are exempt from homophobia. It is your civil duty to educate yourself. If you choose not to, it is at my expense.”

DeVine’s former Stanford coaches, Greg Meehan and Dan Schemmel, have both denied any homophobic motives in not inviting him back to the team.

“Abe wasn’t invited back to train with us this fall, as a postgraduate, for reasons entirely unrelated to his sexuality,” they said in a joint statement. “We take pride in the inclusivity and supportiveness that exists on both our men’s and women’s teams, but we will continue to strive, as always, to improve those aspects of our culture.”

Devine previously won NCAA championship for the 400-meter individual medley in 2018 and 2019, and represented Team USA at the World Aquatics Championships in South Korea.