Did Stanford University remove a student athlete because of his sexual orientation?
Almost exactly a year ago, we shared with you the story of Abraham DeVine. DeVine was a 2018 NCAA champion in the 400 individual medley who came out as gay. Unfortunately, he’s now sharing with the world that he believes he was kicked off the Stanford swim team because he’s gay.
Recently, DeVine posted a long message on Instagram to talk about homophobia in sports.
“As many of you know, I’m an openly gay swimmer and I am the only one at my level,” wrote DeVine on Instagram. “I want to use this post to call out some of the homophobia that I’ve experienced being an athlete, and encourage everyone to be thoughtful and intentional about changing some of the homophobic aspects of the athletic culture that exists today.”
DeVine states that he has experienced several instances of homophobia while being openly gay in sports. Many of which worked on different levels. Though he does not provide any specific details, he assures readers that his struggle is a universal one for LGBTQ athletes.
“While I have many specific examples of micro aggressions and outright aggressions that I’ve experienced, homophobia is ultimately much more than an accumulation of experiences,” DeVine continued. “In fact, it is a denial of experience. While I feel like I’ve tried to convey this to many people, many of whom deny any possibility that they contribute it, I’ve started to ask myself: Why is it my job to educate coaches and athletes at the most resourceful university in the world?”
“I cannot continue to try to engage people in this conversation when there is so much fragility to obscure my humanity and character, so much rhetoric to keep me silent,” DeVine added. “Everyone says they support me, and yet, for the millionth time, I am the only one speaking up.”
DeVine then shares his most alarming piece. He states that he was kicked off the team because he’s gay.
“To my coaches who sport the pride flag on their desk, to the athletes who liked my pride photo on Instagram, I need you to wake up to what’s happening around you. How can you say you support me and my equality? How can you not see how Stanford Swim has treated me and used me over the last 4 years? Am I invisible? Plain and simple: there are surface level reasons I was kicked off the Stanford swim team, but I can tell you with certainty that it comes down to the fact that I am gay.”
Afterwards, DeVine shared that those within sports and without it need to realize the immense homophobia that’s strangling LGTBQ athletes, both out or closeted, within the world of sports.
“This is a pattern,” said DeVine. “Homophobia is systematic, intelligently and masterfully designed to keep me silent and to push me out. I am a talented, successful, educated, proud, gay man: I am a threat to the culture that holds sports teams together. I want something to change, because I can’t take it anymore. My story is not unique. There are queer voices everywhere and all you have to do is listen. I am asking, begging for some sort of action. If you are reading this, this post is for you! Gay or straight, swimmer or not. None of us are exempt from homophobia. It is your civil duty to educate yourself. If you choose not to, it is at my expense.”
In response to DeVine’s claims, however, Stanford University coaches released a statement to refute the claim that DeVine wasn’t invited back because of his sexual orientation. Instead, they state that the postgraduate, a student who continues to take courses at a University after attaining a degree, wasn’t invited back “for reasons entirely unrelated to his sexuality.”
Specifically, they state: “It is truly unfortunate Abe feels this way. That said, Abe wasn’t invited back to train with us this fall, as a postgraduate, for reasons entirely unrelated to his sexuality. We take pride in the inclusivity and supportiveness that exists on both our men’s and women’s teams, but we will continue to strive, as always, to improve those aspects of our culture.”
— Zach Keenan (@kachzeenan) September 30, 2019