Gay Athlete

Former Rugby Player Sam Stanley Talks Coming Out & Retiring

Retired rugby player Sam Stanley is sharing his experiences about coming out as the first openly gay rugby player and his eventual departure from the sport.

25-year-old Stanley had a fine career in rugby. He played for England through five Sevens World Series and became the first English professional rugby union player to come out as gay in 2015, but, unfortunately, he left the sport after having suffered from too many injuries.

“Certain injuries can be hit and miss,” he told GayStarNews, “Some people can recover from them but unfortunately I’ve not.”

Though his departure was necessary for his health, Stanley was honest enough to say that he sometimes misses the sport, “I think at the minute, and how things have gone, not really. … I miss it a hell of a lot.”

That said, there might still be hope for him yet as he is going through rehab. Mixing that with his young age leaves him to think there might be a chance of his return to rugby.

In the meantime, he’s enjoying life besides his fiancé Laurence Hicks as they run a B&B called Casa Piccolo Paradiso and occasionally share an Instagram picture or two.

 

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Israeli Basketball Player Uri Kokia Came Out As Gay

Uri Kokia has become the first Israeli professional basketball player to come out as gay.

The 36-year-old striker for the Hapoel, the second division in the city of Ramat Gan, has had a successful career in Basketball. He’s played professionally for over 15 years and formerly played for Israel’s national basketball team before suffering a torn tendon in his shoulder.

Now, Uri Kokia has made another hallmark moment in his career by coming out as gay.

Kokia shared the fact yesterday (Wednesday, November 29) through an interview with ynet.co.il.

“After many years of fear, I am now completely calm,” he told them in the interview, "I want to show you can make a long and glorious career as a gay man."

"The fear of coming out of the closet is unreal."

"I want to connect with young people and tell them that you can be different and do what you love," he said.

So far, Kokia has received well wishes and praise for his coming out.

For instance, one Facebook user commented: “You’ve always been an amazing man on and off the field. You’re a role model and I hope that because of your amazing act, kids are not ashamed and comfortable with themselves.”

Meanwhile, another fan tweeted out, “Uri Kokia is stunning and brave.”

Uri Kokia responded to all this on Facebook by saying:

“It’s not easy to put all the thoughts and feelings I’m going through right now. So I’m just gonna say thank you to everyone… for the kind words.”

Former Olympic Swimmer Mark Foster Came Out As Gay

Mark Foster is a five-time British Olympic swimmer, a six-time world champion, a setter of eight world records, and a BBC sports commentator.

And now adding to that list, Foster has come out as gay.

The 47-year-old commentator spoke to the Guardian to share his truth because despite having a good support group of friends and family in private, he was tired of lying to the public.

"It’s not like I’ve been pushed to come out,” he told the Guardian, “I’ve just swerved and swerved. Telling half-truths and not being my true self is only hurting me. I’m 47, a middle-aged man, and I’m no longer competing. And I’m not the first gay sportsman to come out. Gareth Thomas and Tom Daley led the way.”

Foster echos the fact that being an openly gay athlete is still rare and some would say taboo.

He says that since the age of 17 he found it hard to voice out the fact that he is gay. That only became harder as he became a professional athlete.

Mark Foster was even comfortable enough to share that his fears of coming out go beyond that. His fears were deeply rooted in avoiding vulnerability.

"Sharing stuff was always the problem. I’ve got used to avoiding the truth and I never spent much time looking in the mirror. It’s a fear of being vulnerable because if you open yourself up you could be hurt."

Foster shared that he started to see a therapist to understand his feelings and fears.

"It was really hard but I soon found I could tell him the truth because I didn’t really know him. He also won’t judge me and what I say stays with him."

But even more, the real catalyst for Foster sharing this part of his life was the death of his father and the realization that he’ll never be able to share more of his feelings with the man.

Now, Mark Foster is open to sharing not only his present, but also his past in terms of his experiences due to this sexuality.

Foster then shared that he thinks the last hurtle for gay athletes is in football.

"Football is a weird testosterone-driven world and it’s the last bastion. But if a gay footballer came out it would change so many attitudes.”

In the meantime, younger gay athletes have a newly out role model in Mark Foster.

Gay College Swimmer is Raising Money To Fight Suicide In Honor of His Childhood Friend

Josh Velasquez via Instagram @whoisjoshv

Josh Velasquez is doing well in life.

He is a former high school swimming champion, and he is currently attending the University of Arizona to pursue a degree in neuroscience. But, possibly the best thing that Jos Velasquez could be doing is raising money to fight suicide.

The reason that Velasquez is on a personal crusade against suicide is because he has come too close to it. Not only was he in a dressed and suicidal state just a year ago, but six years ago he lost his best friend to it.

“In 2011, my best friend, Aaron, became another suicide statistic. Like others, Aaron felt that no one understood him or his place in the world,” he told OutSports, “He thought it would be best if he was no longer around. It destroyed everyone that knew him.”

In honor of his friend, Josh Velasquez has been trying to raise money for the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention. One way that he’s doing that is by running in a half-marathon in Long Beach, Calif., on Oct. 8th.

Not only is Velasquez being a strong advocate for suicide prevention, but last year he came out as gay in a co-written OutSports post with fellow swimmer Axel Reed.

Now, Velasquez is working as an outspoken gay athlete whose Instagram account is covered in affirmative messages, pictures of happy moments with his boyfriend, and shots of regular life.

If you want to support Josh Velasquez in his fight against suicide, you can donate to his fundraising page for his spot in the half-marathon.

You can also read some of his words about the campaign down below:

“Last year, like tens of thousands of others, I was suffering with extreme depression and suicidal thoughts.  But I was a lucky one: I was pulled out of the dark hole I had dug for myself by close friends, family and assistance from the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention (AFSP).”

“Nearly 45,000 lives are lost to suicide annually. This number can be lessened when friends and family are educated on the signs affiliated with extreme depression and suicidal tendencies…”

“Depression doesn't need to be a terminal illness:  think of it as a beast that needs to be slain.”

Creator of Gay Athlete Love Story Wants To Expand it Into A Full-Length Film

Credit: Screenshot from Original "In the Dark"

Every now and then, I like to check out Kickstarter and GoFund me to see what kind of cool LGBTQ+ stuff people are making. What new movies and web series are on the horizon? What gay themed comics are waiting to be made? What can I put my money behind?

And every time I go on those sites I am pleased to find that there is always some new LGBTQ+ themed project waiting to be funded. And there are always good ones that deserve to exist.

Just think about it, Beth David and Estaban Bravo would not have created “In a Heartbeat” if it weren’t for its Kickstarter campaign. And, Physique Pictorial, one of the original Beefcake magazines that built gay history by doing things like introducing us to Tom of Finland, is coming back because of a Kickstarter campaign.

This is all to say that we should all regularly check in on these crowdfunding sites because you never know when the next Moonlight will popup.

And as such, I, and my fellow Instinct writers, love to point you all in the direction of new Kickstarters that have gotten our attention. The one kickstarter that I’m directing you towards today is one that we’ve already touched on, but now we have a little update.

In the Dark was a short film that hit earlier this summer. The film’s description goes as follows:

“A gay college student, Austin, is hiding his sexuality from everyone in his life, until he meets Eric. Austin is instantly attracted to Eric's comfort in who he is. When they start a relationship, Austin may have to choose between keeping Eric in his life or keeping his secret.”

As for the creator, named Ryan Beene, the recent Texas Lutheran University grad saw a need for more LGBTQ+ representation. While certainly there is some good representation out there, Hollywood still needs work on making true, honest, and impactful stories and characters with an LGBTQ+ context.

So, Beene decided to be the change he wanted to see, as he told Outsports.com.

“I’d recently watched Moonlight and Certain Women, both movies with queer characters. They inspired what I wanted to do with the film and the internal struggle that some of these characters faced. I wanted to tell the truth about what it's actually like for many people to come out, with the added layer of playing a sport and trying to be in a relationship.”

Daniel Saunders (left) and Ryan Beene / Credit: Screenshot from Original "In the Dark"

The short film was a modest success with coverage from gay sites across the internet, not just Instinct, but Beene wants more. He wants to turn it into a full-length film.

As such, Ryan Beene has started up a Kickstarter, which you can find here, to help make that dream a reality. All of the money collected will go towards paying for equipment as well as paying the cast and crew.

In addition, we were lucky enough to get a word in with him and to ask a few questions about this new Kickstarter and his hopes for the project.

What is it about this particular story that resonated with you?

RB: I don't think we get the young first love story told from the gay perspective, and that is something kids should get to see. I think it's something everyone should see. We, as LGBT+ people, often don't get to experience first love as young as others do, because most aren't out or are afraid to search people out. So a sweet, gay, first love story is something I really want to see, so I thought I'd make one.

How do you think the story can connect with a gay and, more widely, LGBTQ+ audience?

RB: I think so many gay people will resonate with Austin, the main character. He's an athlete, which we know there are more and more gay athletes coming out. He is afraid to tell his parents, which every LGBT+ person can relate to.

And then you get to see a first love story, and there are other LGBT+ characters in the story. There are three lesbian/bisexual women in the script. The majority of the cast are people of color. I just think everyone should see a story like this.

How will turning the film into a full-length feature help and enhance the story?

RB: The plan was always for this to be a feature length. There is so much more to tell about Austin and Eric's personal lives and their relationship. From Eric's very complicated relationship with his father, to his life as an athlete, getting to see Austin and Eric just get to be happy and flirt and fall in love. With a short, it felt rushed.

But now you really get to watch this relationship unfold in a really sweet and more realistic way. I also think the layer of him being black is very important.  Not only for representation, but it also changes the story. Because we do have different experiences of coming out varying throughout the different races. And masculinity is more important in other cultures.

But should you support this full-length project? Well, Beene spent only $300 dollars to make the 35-minute short film that became In the Dark. Imagine what he could do with all the money collected through the Kickstarter. Or better yet, instead of imagining you could click over to the Kickstarter and see for yourself.