Transformations

Ex-college swimmer explains why coming out is magic

There is a specific magic that is lost by being a gay person — the magic of being able to chase after your feelings whenever someone significant embodies them, the magic of being able to flirt with whomever you find attractive.

That’s 22-year-old Luke Marshall, a former competitive college swimmer who writes candidly in OutSports about his experiences coming out.

“If you’re really young, don’t let anyone tell you that you don’t understand your feelings,” he writes. “You do.”

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While he suspects that “most people wouldn’t want to be gay if they could choose” — a point we don’t necessarily agree with — Marshall feels there’s tremendous value to the gay experience:

There is a unique magic we can all count on as gay people that no straight person can — the magic of finding someone really special, another gay person, as if landing on an island you were destined for in a big ocean after a long, experience-filled journey. Nothing compares to the love of two people of the same sex.

The lesson was a long time coming, since Marshall initially didn’t see any advantage to being gay at all. In fact, he tried tucking away his feelings and concealing them from his peers.

But I was also connected to my feelings at the same time because I had a lot of guilt. I remember feeling guilty for being attracted to certain guys and thinking they had pretty legs and beautiful faces because in our society not a lot of guys would take that as a compliment. The locker room was an awkward guilt-generating machine for me since everyone’s changing in close proximity.

Marshall ultimately came out publicly in college at Southern California’s University of Redlands, and if he could do it all again, he would’ve come out to individual friends to make for a more intimate experience.

But that’s a thought he has in retrospect, three years later.

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And there’s a reason he decided to write his story when he did:

I ended up swimming two full seasons as a college swimmer. They weren’t my most successful years of swimming when it came to times but I showed through them what was most important — an evidence of perseverance through a sport as an out gay person. I write this article to mark a year of being finished with the sport.

“It’s important to be out,” he says. “It’s essential for our social ecosystem as queer folks around the world. My biggest dream is that we find better ways as gay men to meet, strengthen, and respect one another. Grindr is overrated!”

You can check out the whole piece — which deserves to be read in its entirety — here.