An Ohio State University (OSU) athlete came out as gay and has earned the support of his teammates. Derrick Anderson came out last summer to his friends and parents in his hometown in Arlington, Texas, and has now publicly made it clear he is gay.
“There is nothing you can do or say that is going to hurt me. Both teammates were supportive of it, and they didn’t care,” said the OSU Sophomore. “They were like, ‘OK, I’m glad you told me and now I know. We’re not going to treat you any differently.’ ”
Three weeks before NBA player Jason Collins, he publicly came out at one of the university’s sponsored event.
“As soon as one person does it, the nation sees it as not that big of a deal,” said the track and field star. “That’s exactly how coming out should be: ‘Oh great, you did it, we’re proud of you, we’re supporting you, and now we’re moving on.’”
“People coming out don’t do it because they want a news piece and they want everybody to know about it. They come out so they can move on themselves. That’s exactly how it should be,” Anderson continued.
Anderson is now a member of Athlete Ally, an organization that combats discrimination and homophobia in sports. Through his volunteer efforts, he hopes to inspire similar athletes dealing with their orientation.
“I wasn’t a genuine person. That was the hardest thing,” said Anderson.
“You want to get to know people, but at the same time being in the closet … it’s like I can’t get to know anybody because if I do, they’ll get too close and they’ll figure out I’m gay.”
His athletic peers and his coach lend their support after learning in casual conservations. For a while, he ignored his teammates when confronted with his sexuality.
“I don’t know why I put myself through that,” said Anderson. “I kind of ask myself now: What would have happened if I had come out sooner and been open about it from the get-go? How would my life have been different?”
While Columbus is known for their growing gay community, Anderson still had to adjust to a new city and its surroundings. Coach Beathea along with OSU athletic director Gene Smith and Senior Associate Athletic Director Chris Schneider helped Anderson’s transition by providing an open-minded culture and discussed on developing the university’s atmosphere.
“They already knew and were past it being an issue or a story,” said Beathea. “For us, it’s business as usual. Derrick is a good kid. The fact that he feels comfortable and is able to talk about it and not be bothered or think it’s going to impact him or his family, I think that’s good.”
Anderson hopes to continue a normal life attending college, but inspiring others.
It’s all about being comfortable with yourself,” said Anderson. “It’s about being able to live your life.”