"Keep Telling as Many Stories as We Can": How Outsports Helps Athletes Come Out

Oct 16, 2014

Cyd Zeigler said the idea for Outsports.com came from the simple desire to talk about sports with other gay men.

“There was this idea that gay men don’t like sports, that they couldn’t be a part of sports because of who they were. We decided to take it upon ourselves to create a place where gay men could go and be themselves, talk about sports, talk about Peyton Manning’s touchdown passes and how cute his butt looks in his pants.”

But within the year he found those in the LGBT athletic community were aching for more than just a casual space to discuss play-by-plays.

“People who had been pushed into the closet all their lives started finding us and saying, ‘I didn’t think there was anybody else like me. I’ve been told from the day I played peewee football in elementary school that sports was not a place for me.’ […] It started to change because we started to realize that Outsports wasn’t just a place to have fun and be snarky and tell jokes, there was some real serious work we could do in helping to change the sports world.”

Now, fifteen years later, Outsports.com is not only covering the biggest stories in the intersection of LGBT and athletic issues, it’s giving people like Evan Risk a place to share their stories. Risk is a junior high cross-country coach in Iowa City. After his friend used a homophobic slur at a football game, he decided to come out to him and write an article about the experience for Outsports.

“I had a parent email me that told me her dad came out when he was sixty, and read my article and really liked it. The parent support has been the most surprising. It’s been the best.”

Zeigler says this isn’t uncommon. He says every story he’s heard of a male athlete coming out has had a happy ending.

Host Charity Nebbe talks with Zeigler and Risk during this episode of Talk of Iowa. Zeigler is giving a lecture, "The LGBT Athletes and Moments That Changed the Sports World Forever" tonight at 8 at Iowa State University’s Memorial Union Sunroom.