Some of us … okay, I think most of us hated high school. Fighting to find ourselves, to be accepted, trying to fit in or out, and wishing to be treated like a fellow human being. For many of us, that closet was a nice and comfortable place.
For those of us struggling through those years, Outsports.com is a great source of inspiration. It's a resource where fellow LGBTers share their great stories of triumph and trailblazing with us all.
Halftime had just started, and my teammates on the Anahuac High School football team in Anahuac, Texas, headed to the locker room. But I headed to the other side of the field where, still wearing my football uniform, I applied some makeup and got ready to do high kicks and splits with the drill team.
I was the only guy in my school district to be on the drill team, which also made me the only gay guy on the team.
I could feel the crowd turn their heads as we marched to the sounds of our captain's whistle. The fans seemed a bit in awe and had no idea what to think seeing a guy out there doing drills. As we got in our formation and waited for the music to start, I was very nervous, but once the music started we got to dancing and my nerves went away. It was an amazing moment.
I would have to say that the best faces to watch were those of the other teams and their parents because they all just realized "the gay kid who wears makeup and does the splits" was kicking their butts on the field — I played both offensive and defensive line — and was going to do it again when halftime was over.
My male teammates never had a problem with me doing double duty with the drill team and neither did my coaches. I was always welcomed back to the game with support and applause from my teammates and coaches when halftime was over.
I like to think that by performing with the drill team, that I opened some minds. I was able to show that not only can gay men play sports but that they can also have, for lack of a better word, a “flamboyant” side as well and that it was OK that straight men and gay men can have both sides, that it was OK to be different. – outsports.com
Head over to outsports.com to read more about Austin's childhood growing up in conservative Texas, having just female friends because he was "different" (sound familiar?), his middle school years, and what surprising side effects he received from playing sports – guy friends and male support/acceptance.
I was scared to death because I thought athletics was over for me, but that turned out to not be the case. This coach instead assured me that he would make sure I got to stay in athletics and continue playing sports and that me being gay made me no different than the other boys. This was the first time a male figure ever gained my respect and trust, and this coach earned a special place in my heart. – outsports.com
But there were also the very hard times of his sexuality being found out by his parents, threats of physical harm, a suicide attempt, and more.
Austin, thank you for sharing your story. You are a trailblazer and an inspiration. Your outsports.com article was inspirational. But we've noticed you're still going strong.
Austin is now at the University of Houston studying Geology and is the Sexuality and Gender Acceptance Ambassador. He is also the founder of the Hodges Legacy Foundation, and the wearer of many other hats. Keep up the great work Austin!
The Hodges Legacy Foundation Founded by Mr. Austin Hodges was created to give Deserving Students Scholarships and Qualifying Organizations Sponsorships. Our founder Mr. Hodges is a Anahuac High School Honors Alumni from the Class of 2016 and is currently a student at the University of Houston where he majors in Geology. Mr. Hodges has been looking for a way to give back to his local high school and surrounding communities since the day he left because to him Anahuac High School was both his home and for the faculty and staff there his family, Mr. Hodges was very involved while at his high school participating in everything from sports, to academic competition, to clubs and organizations. Anyone could ask his former peers of the Leadership he displayed and the Legacy that he left behind. Mr. Hodges has always believed the Goal in life is not to live forever but to rather create something that will, with that firm belief Mr. Hodges decided to create the Hodges Legacy Foundation. – Hodges Legacy Foundation Facebook Page