For Jaden Vazquez, coming out was just the beginning.
As a star linebacker for Fordham University’s football team, Velazquez came out as bisexual last fall–quite literally, in fact. He posted a video of himself coming out of his bedroom closet to Instagram in October, coinciding with National Coming Out Month.
“As you can see it’s not easy for me to come out of the closet but here it is! 😂😂😂,” he said in the video post. “Im bisexual and im proud of who I am. Thank you to everyone who has ever supported me. I’ve struggled my entire life with self-identity and I have finally found the strength to come out. Hope you enjoy the video 😂😂😂.”
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As you can see it's not easy for me to come out of the closet but here it is! ??? Im bisexual and im proud of who I am. Thank you to everyone who has ever supported me. I've struggled my entire life with self identity and I have finally found the strength to come out. Hope you enjoy the video ???
Even better, the video post prompted friends, coaches and teammates to accept him as queer with open arms. “I’ve been pretty surprised to have zero negative reactions,” Vazquez told Outsports. “A lot of people do get negative reactions when they come out, and that’s one thing I’m very fortunate about. My family is very open and loving and supporting, and my teammates are very open.”
“I called him that night and said it was a very brave thing you did,” Vazquez’s coach, Joe Conlin, tells News 12. “We’re here to support you in any way shape or form…It was no big deal because it’s not a big deal. It’s who he is.”
Now Vazquez has parlayed that good feeling into a positive force for all LGBTQ people. This fall, he’s establishing a new position for Fordham’s student-athlete organization, Fordham Connect: the group’s first LGBTQ executive. Fordham Connect’s purpose is to erase mental health stigma in sports.
“I hope that I inspire other athletes–younger than me, older than me–are able to see themselves through me and say ‘Hey, this is someone that’s doing this.’ If I’d seen someone like that, I definitely would have felt more comfortable as myself earlier on.”
“We’re trying to have a safe space to talk about those things,” Vazquez added to Outsports. “We know these are topics that are not really brought up in sports, because there’s this idea that you just play a sport. But the athletes are more than just athletes.”
Now a junior, Vazquez will hold his role as LGBTQ Executive with Fordham Connect for the next two years. Well done, Jaden.