Jake Bain made headlines many years ago when he became one of the first openly queer D1 football stars. Its a very brave thing for anyone to do who plays sports, especially during high school, yet for the most part he received nothing but love and admiration from his peers and many others as a result.
The 21-year-old continues to use his message for good. He has partnered with It Gets Better in a powerful new video where he talks about his upbringing, coming out story, and advice for the next generation of LGBTQ youth.
“Stories from queer athletes are becoming more frequent as visibility and acceptance grows, and Jake’s candidness about his coming out experience will resonate with a lot of people,” Ross von Metzke, Director of Communications and Public Relations, told Instinct. “The stories of LGBTQ+ athletes are among the most popular videos we’ve collected at the It Gets Better Project. Jake’s contribution makes for a wonderful addition to our arsenal of uplifting and empowering stories.”
In an exclusive interview Jake chatted with us about his partnership, what it was like to come out again as pansexual, his dating world and much more.
What made you want to partner with It Gets Better for this inspiring project?
I wanted to partner with It Gets Better and share my story because I want to inspire other kids out there like me to not be afraid to be themselves, and to create more visibility for the LGBTQ+ community in athletics. It Gets Better has an amazing platform geared toward inspiring the LGBTQ+ community, so I thought this would be a perfect way to share my story.
At what point were you aware of the impact you made with your own coming out story?
I became aware of the impact I had made on others a few days after my coming out speech when I began to receive messages from kids around my school who let me know that I had given them the strength and courage they needed to be themselves and come out. Then, as my speech received more attention, I began to hear from kids all across the country, and eventually, around the whole world. I got to hear hundreds of stories from kids who were able to take something positive from my experiences and use it in their own lives. That’s when I realized that everything I had been through to get to that point had been worth it.
The NFL just released a powerful promo that featured well-known stars encouraging their fellow players to come out whenever they feel the time is right. Are you surprised that we’ve come this far in our path for equality?
Knowing that you have allies to support and love you for who you are is such an important part of the coming out process, so I think what the NFL is beginning to do to ensure its fellow players will be accepting of the LGBTQ+ community is a huge step in the right direction. I am not surprised that things are starting to change in terms of acceptance for the LGBTQ+ community in sports, because I think there have been more and more athletes who have come out over the past few years and shown everyone that there is nothing different or wrong with them. I believe that the more people who are willing to be open and visible and true to who they are, the more people will come out, which will increase acceptance for the LGBTQ+ community.
Did you receive any backlash from the gay community when you revealed that you’re pansexual? If so, how did you react?
Surprisingly, I did receive a decent amount of hate from the LGBTQ+ community when I came out as pansexual. I expected the community to be proud of me for not letting myself be mislabeled anymore, and giving more visibility to the pansexual community, but instead, many people saw it as a publicity stunt, or a cop out. It was sad to hear backlash from my own community when I was just trying to be my true self, but I believe that most people will come around to it when they realize thay nothing has changed about who I am, and that there is nothing wrong with being pansexual.
Are you currently dating anyone? If not, what qualities do you look for in a person?
I am currently single. I think what I look for most in a person is if they have a good heart and can make me smile. I’ve realized throughout the years that I don’t really care what gender someone is or what body parts they may have, I am more interested in who they are as a person and what makes them who they are.
What are your biggest goals for you, both personally and professionally, that you want to achieve in the next 2-3 years?
Personally, my goal is to finish college and find a career that allows me to continue to help others like me figure out how to be themselves and love themselves for who they are. I am currently working on my Psychology degree, where I have been gaining even more experience with counseling and supporting others, and I hope to somehow pair that with athletics in the future to become a sports therapist, specializing in the LGBTQ+ community in athletics. I want to show and encourage as many people as I can that they don’t have to let their sexual orientation keep them from achieving their goals and dreams, and create a more equal playing field for the LGBTQ+ community in sports.
Finally, how can others join in on this amazing It Gets Better initiative?
Start by doing some research and getting yourself familiar with the It Gets Better website. Allow yourself to be inspired by the stories that have been shared through the It Gets Better Project, and then take what you have learned, and implement it into your everyday lives.
For more about the It Gets Better Project and how you can get involved, visit www.itgetsbetter.org.