A football player at Fordham University literally came out of the closet to his teammates and now he’ll lead the LGBT section of his school’s new student-athlete organization.
According to the Bronx Times, 20-year-old junior, openly bisexual athlete, and football linebacker Jaden Vazquez has recently announced that he’ll be heading the LGBTQ section of the Fordham Connect. The Fordham Connect is a new club created by Fordham’s student-athletes as a safe space to talk about mental health and sports.
As the Fordham Ram reports, the club was first conceptualized by a junior soccer player named Maggie Grossman. In her freshman year, the Fordham Athletics brought in a speaker to facilitate team-building exercises like students sharing intimate personal experiences about their childhoods. It was at that moment that Grossman realized the students should have regular access to such spaces. Then as the craziness of 2020 kept escalating, Grossman decided to follow through with that idea.
In order to properly make space for all of the diverse backgrounds within Fordham’s sports community, the Fordham Connect includes three additional subgroups. The first one is for female athletes and will be run by a junior in the women’s soccer team named Jenna Devine, another is for people of color and will be run by a junior within the track & field team named Jade Dyer-Kennedy, and the last will provide space for LGBTQ athletes. That last one will be run by Jaden Vazquez.
Who are we? ↘️ pic.twitter.com/3xVfjVFzWU
— Fordham Connect (@fordhamconnect) August 21, 2020
The Vazquez Story
While the organization officially began this June, it will hold its first meeting later this month. For Vazquez, he hopes to make LGBTQ athletes feel comfortable within Fordham’s sports community and the sports world as a whole.
“I just want to make people feel comfortable within sports,” he told the Fordham Ram. “There’s not that many open spaces for LGBTQ athletes to come together and talk.” He also said he hopes the group can help people deal with discrimination they may face.”
Vazquez also hopes to acknowledge that being LGBTQ doesn’t make someone’s entire identity. In fact, he hopes for a future when simply identifying as LGBTQ is no longer a thing.
“I don’t want people that just identify with LGBTQ to come,” he commented to the Bronx Times. “I want more people to know sexuality doesn’t have to be the main thing in someone’s life. People should be more open and into the diversity that we see in our communities, college and everyday life.”
These perspectives come from Jaden Vazquez’s own experiences of coming out as bisexual. He says seeing other LGBTQ people on campus made him feel comfortable with coming out. He then told his family in 2019. At first, Jaden’s sisters were upset that he did not tell them beforehand. Thankfully, they later accepted their brother’s truth.
“I finally came to terms with myself and stopped fighting,” he recalled. “I feel emotionally better. It’s not something I think about anymore. I felt like I was living a lie.”
For the Urban Studies major, the next task was coming out to his teammates. He first selected a few teammates to share his truth. They then encouraged him to tell the rest of the team. Jaden Vazquez decided to do so by posting a coming out video on Instagram shortly after National Coming Out Day. In the video, Vazquez is seen literally coming out of a closet.
View this post on Instagram
As you can see it's not easy for me to come out of the closet but here it is! 😂😂😂 Im bisexual and im proud of who I am. Thank you to everyone who has ever supported me. I've struggled my entire life with self identity and I have finally found the strength to come out. Hope you enjoy the video 😂😂😂
Thankfully, Vazquez has received nothing but support from his team and the school’s coaching staff.
“I’ve been pretty surprised to have zero negative reactions,” Vazquez told Outsports. “A lot of people do get negative reactions when they come out, and that’s one thing I’m very fortunate about. My family is very open and loving and supporting, and my teammates are very open.”
“I said it’s a very brave thing you did and we’re here to support you in any way, shape or form,” Fordham football head coach Joe Conlin told News 12. “It was no big deal because it’s not a big deal. That’s who he is and we love him.”