College Athlete Shares How Surfing Helped With His Coming Out

What helped you get through your coming out days?  Was it a friend?  Family member?  Did you immerse yourself in something else? Did you revert and focus on yourself?

We all came out differently, had different catalysts that started the process.

Some of us are still looking for the strength and inspiration to break out of that shell. I think that is why I love sharing coming out stories. You never know when one will help a closeted person.  We never know when a word or a phrase will be that catalyst to help them live. 

One such story is from Nick Vallejo, surfer, swimmer, lifeguard and college student studying in Hawaii.


North shore of Oahu in Hawaii is where I seek solace. Before any surf session, I take a moment to harmonize with my life.

Dipping my toes into the white sand laced with seashells and sea glass, while gazing at the breaking booms of blue and white waves, fills me with nostalgic chills to the point where I can almost feel my pulse sync with the sets of waves.

On my paddle out to the surf, I always tell myself to think of five things I am thankful for in life before riding a wave. Each stroke I take in the water, I’ll inhale a heavy breath of warm, salty air with the Hawaiian sun beating on my back creating the perfect combination of tropical bliss.

Surfing is also an outlet I have used to help come to terms with my sexuality and how I identify with myself as gay. When I realized this side of myself, it initially scared me, but catching waves and exerting my energy towards the sport I love helped move myself in acceptance.

Relative to the surfing sport, I also swim. I have swum competitively since my freshman year of high school at Rio Mesa High School in Oxnard, California. As my high school career progressed, I continuously got faster. I was the top swimmer in my school and in my county at the time.

I was getting recognized by the local newspaper and people knew who I was and it felt great. I felt as if I was on top of the world. I broke school records in the 100-meter freestyle and relay records with my best friends in the 200-medley relay, 200-free relay and 400-free relay. As great as all the attention was, deep inside I felt empty, incomplete, and disgusted. I was still struggling with my sexuality and my beliefs of who I was and who I was becoming. –


Nick goes on to talk about his hiding that part of him from his family, school, church, and sneaking out to go to gay clubs, lying to his parents, secretly dating men, and searching for new friends outside of his normal safe circles, but through it all becoming more depressed.

Vallejo states he actually received inspiration from watching "coming out" YouTube videos.  After his own coming out via a Facebook post, Nick actually became more depressed. "I would spend my nights on top of some of the school buildings at night and cry. I started to question my religion and my faith and my reality."  His depression led to him taking time off from school, returning home, and then doing things that he had always put off doing for one reason or another.  He started living and things turned around.

In the true fashion of paying it back, Nick returned to YouTube, not to watch, but to create.

I felt the urge to make a video and start a Youtube channel as a safe zone where people can watch my life while giving advice or just being a friend and know that there’s life beyond the closet and relate to others. I felt that this was one of the ways of “giving back and receiving ten times in return” as Coach Baratte would always say.



I will always use surfing as the most positive outlet for myself. Feeling the surge of water vibrating and propelling my board into an accelerated point to where for a moment, feels as if I’m weightless and enter a state of cognitive euphoria that no other experience in this world can replicate. I’m beyond thankful to be able to continue to live life in a place where I can truly be myself, happily surfing and learning what life has to offer.


Thanks Nick for sharing your journey and putting your own personal story out there for all of us to read and watch.  We need all the positive thinking we can get.  For the full tale of his coming out, head over to

What helped you with coming out? 

Was it a sport? a place? a person? a song?




Nick Vallejo, 22, is continuing his education at University of Hawaii at Manoa where he is majoring in human development and psychology. In the summer, he is a Los Angeles County lifeguard. He can be reached:
Instagram: Nickvallejo
Twitter: Nickdvallejo



Leave a Comment