Trevor Kosch knew he was gay in the first grade.
Growing up in a rural Nebraska town and attending a traditionalist Catholic school, he knew he couldn’t come out until college. He did so last summer, telling friends, family and his golfing teammates at the University of Missouri-St. Louis and met with warm acceptance. Now the college senior has penned an essay for OutSports recalling his inner conflict over coming out and urging religious people to make a place of acceptance for LGBTQ people within faith and athletics.
“I am proud of where I come from,” Kosch writes, “but it was definitely not the easiest place for a gay child to be able to feel safe to come out, so I decided to hide it as well as I could for as long as I could. I even dated girls and would even laugh at and make homophobic jokes to fit in and seem ‘normal.'”
“The fact that society pushes gay children to hate themselves so much that they would use a slur against their own community is disgusting,” he continues. “Society is killing our children. I sincerely apologize for using those words. For so long, I blamed myself for my past, but then I realized that I cannot change the past, but instead learn from it.”
For Kosch, the biggest obstacles to coming out and self-acceptance lay in a lack of athletic role models, and in the history of religious persecution of queer people. Those attitudes, he writes, are what he hopes to change most.
“I always felt a sense of feeling alone within the golf and athletic world,” he says. “I think there definitely are gay athletes who might not get out of the closet until their sports career is over, which is heartbreaking to me…I also want to speak up for anyone who might be LGBTQ+ and struggles with trauma from any religious background. I am a gay Christian man and I can say that way more people in the LGBTQ+ community are religious and spiritual than one might think.”
Kosch relates that coming out made him feel closer to God and to his friends and family. By speaking out about his own journey, he hopes to save others the same pain he felt growing up.
“I want to inspire children, teens, and adults all across the country to know that they are perfect just as they are,” he writes. “And there is no need to conform to others’ expectations when you can be exactly who God made you to be.”
That’s a Hell of a drive, Trevor.