TAG | Andrew McIntosh
Andrew McIntosh is a senior co-captain on the lacrosse team at Oneonta State University, but he almost did not make it to his senior season. Struggling with his sexuality, and reaching a valley in his depression at the end of his junior year, McIntosh contemplated suicide.
Thankfully, he took an alternative approach: coming out. After being inspired by watching the powerful movie, Milk, to come out to his teammates, family, and coaches, he is now among the ranks of out NCAA athletes. McIntosh’s coming out story is told in his own words through this OutSports article.
The themes that are so frequent in coming out stories—depression, thoughts of suicide, the choice of words for coming out, etc.—resonate throughout. Again, thankfully, this is a “happy-ending” sort of coming out, contrary to the instances when suicide is attempted or when the response is negative.
I snickered empathetically when I read how he first tried to come out. His friend asks, “Do you like guys?” and he answers, “I think so.” Even now, for me (as it was for him), it is weird to simply say, “Yes, I am gay.” And I usually do not. Even if accomplishing the same end, it is easier to choose words that are less direct or diffused with some humor (at least we tell ourselves that when we justify the indirect route).
Similarly, McIntosh came out to his coach via email. Now, I do not want to suggest there is anything wrong with coming out in an indirect method. It is hard enough coming out without forcing yourself to do so in some formalistic fashion; if it is easiest to mull it over, select your words carefully, and deliver via e-mail, then I hope you find the courage to do so.
McIntosh’s coach sounds like a great, respectable man. Prior to McIntosh coming out, he stopped practice and scolded his players who said that a drill “was so gay.” Without this explicit, yet minor, decision by the coach, there is no way to know if McIntosh would have found the courage to come out (rather than the alternative). I wish more coaches and organizations took the initiative to establish a safe environment for their players to come out.
With that preface, it should come as no surprise that the coach’s response to McIntosh coming out was fully supportive. In McIntosh’s words: “[Coach] told me that if we had a roster of 30 players and 15 of them did not want to play on the team because I was gay, he would tell them to leave the team.” Wow. That is powerful.
McIntosh continued to come out to the rest of his team, and now, based on the article, it seems he is enjoying the benefit of being open and honest with his team, his peers, and himself.