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ESPN Reporter Israel Gutierrez Comes Out As Gay—And Engaged!

"I’d blow out my birthday candles with the same wish: 'Please don’t let me be gay.'"

ESPN reporter Israel Gutierrez came out as gay in a personal blog post on Friday, revealing he’s getting married to his boyfriend next week.

In “Thanks for Reading,” the 38-year-old sports commentator described struggling with his sexuality when he was younger—and how fiancé David Kitchen helped him accept himself.

“Starting in my early teens until somewhere in my late 20s, I’d blow out my birthday candles with the same wish: ’Please don’t let me be gay.'”

Israel Gutierrez

Gutierrez, who appears on Around the Horn and The Sports Reporters, attributes weight gain in his teen years to a desire to avoid dating, and says the few relationships with women he had never got serious.

“I didn’t want them to get hurt or even allow them to waste their time with me,” he explained. “And yet, whenever I even came close to accepting myself as being gay, something else would reignite my denial.

Gutierrez started visiting gay bars in his 20s, but just felt isolated.

“’I don’t fit in. This isn’t me. Nobody in this place knows what I’m going through.’ That’s what I told myself. And every time, I’d leave more certain than ever that I was just confused. Fixable, if you will.”

It was meeting Kitchen in 2009, that began Gutierrez on the road to acceptance.

israel and kitchen
Israel Gutierrez

“Not only had I long ago convinced myself that there was no one out there for me, but I was still so ashamed of being gay, I could barely say it out loud—even when I was speaking with another gay person,” he recalls.

“But in one 24-hour span that began with that introduction to David, it all changed. Not only was there, possibly, someone out there for me, but I had been making life so unnecessarily difficult on myself… I still remember the moment the revelation swept over me. I had been so dumb.”

He also credits out athletes like Martina Navratilova, Wade Davis, Abby Wambache, and especially Gareth Thomas, the British rugby player who came out in late 2009.

gareth thomas

“Thomas’ story was so compelling, and had so many similar notes to my own, it made me wonder how many young men and women are still having to go through this same existence. Hiding yourself from yourself.”

He ended his post by stating that being open will allow him to be a better version of himself, personally and professionally.

“Happiness tends to bring out the best in a person. And I’m so happy right now.”

Kitchen moved from Phoenix to be with Gutierrez the year same they met, and their life together sounds pretty darn adorable: “We have two dogs, were engaged in February 2014, and despite never, ever envisioning myself having a wedding of any kind, will have a very traditional wedding very shortly.”

The guys are tying the knot on September 12. Read Gutierrez’s full post here.

Dan Avery is a writer-editor who focuses on culture, breaking news and LGBT rights. His work has appeared in Newsweek, The New York Times, Time Out New York, The Advocate and elsewhere.