Just a year after creating the popular TikTok account @closeted_fratguy, college soccer player Josh Leafer has revealed himself as the man behind the mystery. He’s also come out as a gay man.
Speaking with the OutSports podcast The Sports Kiki this week, Leafer revealed that he started the account as a means of coping with his sexual orientation. “Anyone else like totally straight but secretly gay?” he posted at the time. The account has since attracted 61,000 followers.
Now Leafer no longer feels a need to hide. The University of Tampa junior has now spoken out about his reasons for coming out, and has encouraged other closeted men to do the same.
“I was just letting people know they’re not alone,” Leafer said. “Even if I’m not telling people who I don’t personally know, just saying those words out loud that I’m gay and I’m struggling makes you feel better. That weight lifts off your shoulders.”
“I just thought if I came out, people would just automatically think differently of me,” he explained. “I wouldn’t be the Josh that they knew, I would be ‘Gay Josh,’ and I did not want that label growing up.”
“When I made the TikTok, I was like, ‘I want to put these qualities out here and just see if there’s anyone else like me, and surprisingly that video got a lot of attention,” he added. “There were definitely a lot of closeted guys who were a lot like me.”
Leafer went on to explain how he feared his relationship with his father would be damaged by coming out. Encouraged by his followers, he finally confronted his dad with the news. The pair didn’t speak for several days thereafter, though eventually, his dad warmed to the idea.
“Telling him really scared me, because I don’t want to lose that bond we had,” Leafer admitted. “Coming out, I felt like I was taking away part of his son. It took me 20 years to understand who I was as a person, and what being gay meant. I expected it take him some time to understand it, too. I’m giving him the time he needs, and all I can ask for his is his love and support, and he’s given it to me so far.”
Now out, proud, and accepted by his family, Leafer wants the world to know there’s no shame in being gay. Best of all, for the first time, he’s finally totally himself.
“I’m still Josh,” he said. “I’m still in a fraternity, I still play sports. It took me a little bit to realize that even though I’m gay, I can still be everything I was before. That’s what I’m trying to show people. I know other guys are going through the same fears that I went through. They’re scared of the same thing. If I can show them that I can have a successful story, then why can’t they have one, too?”
Well done, Josh.