Never mind that deleted @footballergay Twitter account: Here’s a heartwarming story of an athlete who actually did come out of the closet, and tied the knot with her girlfriend in front more than a dozen of her former teammates.
“It was the most perfect, beautiful wedding in Columbia, South Carolina, with all of our family and friends in attendance,” 23-year-old Lauren Ford raves in an Outsports essay, having married now-wife Emery Ford on June 8. “Of all the attendees, 13 of them were particularly special — they were my former college teammates from my time playing Division I women’s tennis at Wofford College. … Looking back, it’s hard to believe just four years prior I was hiding my relationship with Emery from them, doubting whether they would still support me if they knew I was gay.”
It was a love match for gay college tennis player. https://t.co/WbTqma6Hlu
— Outsports (@outsports) July 23, 2019
Lauren says that she starting coming out to her teammates in the spring of her freshman year at Wofford, after her doubles partner speculated that the secret Lauren was hiding was that she was pregnant. Lauren came out to that friend first and then, at the friend’s gentle urging, came out to the rest of the team at a spring break practice.
“I revealed that Emery, the ‘family friend,’ who had been attending all of our matches for the past few months was actually my girlfriend,” she writes. “They all embraced me and showed nothing but love and support. It felt as though a huge weight had been lifted off my shoulders and I was overjoyed that I could finally share that part of my life with them.”
After her coming out, Lauren’s grades and tennis game improved, while Emery became “the top fan of the Wofford women’s team.” And when the time was right, it was Lauren’s teammates’ turn to keep a secret: Emery conspired with the team to plan the perfect marriage proposal.
“The rest is history,” Lauren writes. “I never could have imagined at 18 that Emery, my secret girlfriend, would go on to become my wife, and that my whole team would not only accept me, but would all attend my wedding. Coming out to my tennis teammates in college was one of the best things I’ve ever done, and I am incredibly grateful to have such wonderful people to support me and my new wife.”