A volleyball player at the University of Southern California (USC), who has served as captain of the men’s junior national team for the last year, has come out in an emotional video posted by his university.
Sam Lewis spoke in the video about his experiences of being a young gay athlete, and about the challenges of coming out as gay.
Lewis, who is now 19, said that he first started to feel like he was different when he was 11 years old, and that the feeling got “progressively stronger” as he got older.
“It was just this innate thing that I had inside of me, that I was like: ‘I’m different than others and I know this, but I just don’t know the name for it,’” he said.
“Then I found the LGBT community and I was like, ‘Oh, this is it. This magic that I feel right now, there’s no way that this couldn’t be who I am.’”
He went on to come out to friends and family when he was 14, and was surprised to learn that everybody was accepting of his sexuality. He was so afraid that he said it felt like “the end of the world.”
He also touched on the challenges facing LGBT+ people in the US today, and said: “I know I’m more than my sexuality, but at the same time, in a time like this, we need to be more proud than ever, and able to stand up together.”
While his teammates, friends and family have been accepting of his sexuality, Lewis has faced some challenges in the competitive world of volleyball.
He said he was “terrified” and “stressed out” while serving as the captain of the men’s junior national team, because he experienced challenging incidents while competing abroad for the previous two years.
Outsports reports that one of these incidents took place in Cuba, where a member of Team Jamaica told one of Lewis’ teammates that they kill gay people in Jamaica.
“The second year, we went to a place where it was just not legal for me to be gay,” he continued.
However, Lewis said that he always knew he had the full support of his teammates.
“Being captain and being told that you have the full respect of the coaches and the team regardless of anything, that meant the world to me,” he added.