Swimmer Bree Bailey Feared Unacceptance on Deck Before Coming Out

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By Bree Bailey (Pictured Above on the Left)

I came out on Facebook a little under a year and a half ago. I was pretty nervous about the whole coming out ordeal. Eventually I realized that I was okay with who I am, but to feel totally happy I needed to be true to myself and honest with everyone around me.

There was no need for me to hold a major part of me back and hide it away like I was ashamed when I wasn’t. I was very lucky to have friends and family who totally accepted me for who I am.

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Coming out as an LGBT athlete was an experience that filled me with uncertainties of how people would react, and how it would affect my acceptance in swimming, the sport that I love.

When I was becoming more comfortable with my sexuality and looking to come out to my friends and family, being accepted in the swimming community was always something I worried about. Swimmers run around in tiny suits that are tight and leave little to the imagination. So I was always concerned, and still am at times, that people think I only swim so I can ogle girls in small suits.

The thought of not being accepted by my teammates was often daunting. It still is, as new teammates come and go. But I learned that I needed to be comfortable and true to whom I am. You can’t help who you love.

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When you come out, some people aren’t going to accept you. But the important ones are. Coming out always shows you who your true friends are and the people that are going to love you unconditionally. In the end, you’ll have a lot of people who support you and the naysayers won’t have a long-term affect. You have to be true to yourself and do what makes you happy.

Bree Bailey is a swimmer and student going into her senior year at Oakleaf High School. You can reach Bree on twitter (@BreeBailes98), Facebook, or by email (spacswimmer@aol.com).