New Clemson University Program Spotlights Queer Athletes

Image via Clemson University

Good or Clemson University and its queer athletes.

This fall, Clemson University’s Athletics Department debuted a new social media initiative called My Story Matters. The My Story Matters program promotes the LGBTQ athletes and coaches among the department in a way to represent and amplify LGBTQ experiences in sports. So far, nine athletes have coaches have shared their stories through video interviews. This includes basketball player Shania Meertens, Jackie Simpson Kirr, the associate head coach of the volleyball team, and her wife Jody Kirr, a former coach and the director of administrative projects and operations, and more.

Each athlete or coach talked about their personal experiences, such as coming out to their family, friends, and teammates, or talked about their athletic achievements and goals.

For Meertens, her coming out was not a happy one. The athlete’s relationship with her parents was negatively affected by it. Because of that, Meertens is now adamant about supporting LGBTQ people and is vocal on the need for change.

Meanwhile, Jackie Simpson Kirr and Jody Kirr talked about meeting each other, falling in love, getting married, and educating at the same university.

“I was coaching volleyball and she was lacrosse,” explained Jackie. “Our head coaches were really good friends and so we got to know each other. Just being in that tightknit athletic community.”

The two, who are now married and parents, then talked about coming out and living in a heterosexual world.

“We live in a world that has biases,” noted Jordy. “We live in a very heterosexual world. So when people see my engagement ring, ‘Oh, that’s such a beautiful ring,” you know, ‘How long have you and your husband been married?’ Gay marriage is new on the scene. So as our world continues to progress, I think it’s important that people are aware of the modern family. It certainly is very important but I am very patient and understanding that not everyone is truly there. As we’re not there as a society.”

“I want [students] to see how healthy and happy we are as a family and as individuals. I hope that young people that see us interacting can go, ‘That could be what my life looks like one day. I can have that great career and I can have that great family and be happy and successful inside of it.’”

If you want to watch more interviews from Clemson University’s athletes and coaches, head over to the My Story Matters page.

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