By Carter Craft (Photo Credit: Jeff Sheng, Fearless)
I remember knowing from a very young age that I was different. I always felt like I was trying so hard to be someone that I wasn’t ever going to be. I put up such a façade and told myself everyday; no you cant live a life like that. I thought to myself very often, “Why don’t I have the same feeling towards girls like other boys do?”
I had so many girls who were my friends but I didn’t ever want to date them. I would see cute boys in the halls, but I would quickly extinguish any thoughts about being attracted to them. Deep down I was so attracted to them but I wouldn’t let myself feel that way. It was almost a constant battle between myself. Day after day, it got so hard to keep living a life that wasn’t fulfilling.
Once I got to college that all changed. I remember one of my good friends telling me, “Carter, college is so big, you will fit in and be able to live the life you want to live.” I didn’t believe her until the summer before my junior year when everything changed.
I met someone who would help me come out and begun a relationship with them. We met at a party. We both were attracted to each other. What we didn’t know was that we both weren’t openly out. We had so much in common: He was a swimmer and I was a diver. We both struggled with who we really were. We helped each other feel comfortable enough with ourselves that we were both ready to stop pretending to be someone we weren’t.
Before coming out, I was afraid my teammates wouldn’t accept me. Being on a team of 20 or so manly guys didn’t make it any easier. After months of debating whether or not I should tell them, I eventually came out to them in November of 2013.
They were more than supportive and I wish that I had done it much sooner. I was still myself. Nothing changed about me besides the fact that I wasn’t living a lie anymore. I honestly didn’t receive one negative comment. They said, “We are family and we will support you every step of the way.” This was a huge sigh of relief because I was now able to live a life I was proud of and not constantly try to catch myself saying the wrong thing.
Over these past couple of years I have learned so much about myself. I’ve learned that you can be a successful division 1 diver and be gay. You can make an impact on your team. People will listen to you when you give them advice. You don’t have to sacrifice or hide who you really are because the people who love and care about you wont care one way or the other. They just want you to be happy and comfortable in your own skin.
You should be able to live the life you love. The way I look at it is if people judge you for your sexuality then they don’t deserve to be in your life. Why surround yourself with people who just bring negativity into your life that isn’t necessary?
I encourage younger athletes who are struggling with their sexuality to seek help. Even if that means talking to one of your closest friends or someone you are comfortable with. It makes a huge difference to start talking about these issues instead of trying to hide them because of you don’t, they are just going to get worse.
Coming out takes a lot of courage because you are fully exposing yourself to uncertainty. But coming from my past experiences I can truly say it was worth it. I am much happier with myself personally and my true character is able to shine through.
Carter Craft is a former Division 1 diver for the University of Arizona. He majored in Business Marketing. He is planning to pursue a career in Creative Advertising. You can reach Carter via email (email@example.com)