Gay Yale Athletes Launch Support Group To Combat Locker Room Homophobia

The group's six founding members also hope to inspire others to live openly.

A group of gay Yale University athletes have come together to form an inclusive organization for LGBT student-athletes on campus, listing the integration of incoming LGBT athletes and addressing homophobic locker room culture as their top priorities.

The Yale Daily News reports the group, comprised of six male athletes who are out publicly in varying degrees, created the group informally through “coincidental interactions and mutual acquaintances” because there just isn’t a proper outlet for them to gather.

“When I got connected with Jake, who was struggling with the identy of a gay athlete, we talked it out and afterwards I realized there was no resource around currently,” one of the group’s founding members, men’s rugby player Luc Ryan-Schreiber (pictured below), told OutSports.

“So I met with the athletic department to discuss this. After my first meeting with [senior associate athletic director] Brian Tompkins, he asked if I knew any other gay athletes. So I went to find them and we started the group with the hope of improving the reality for LGBT athletes here at Yale.”

Though there used to be a similar student-run group on campus called Athletes and Allies, another founding member of the group said the culture there was quite “intimidating” for someone who may not be completely out.

“I felt uncomfortable walking into an actual physical building with rainbow lettering,” sophomore men’s golfter Jake Leffew told OutSports. “I think its the formality of it that can be intimidating to someone who’s just looking for an informal resource to talk to.”

Ryan-Schreiber added that the group was also massively disproportionate, with “one [LGBTQ] athlete to 50 allies.”

“Our end goal is to create an infrastructure and a social and institutional culture where any athlete feels comfortable coming out and being a queer athlete at Yale,” junior men’s diver Wayne Zhang said of the new initiative.

“There is just the core assumption of heteronormativity in the locker room because you’re sure no one is gay. The goal is to make it clear that you should not assume there isn’t someone gay,” Ryan-Schreiber added.

Leffew said the group plans to meet with coaches and captains from all 35 varsity teams at the beginning of the fall semester to suggest a form of sensitivity training and discuss locker room behavior that could be harmful to LGBT athletes.

In the meantime, the group is looking to expand its membership before the fall semester to help film a new video for the You Can Play Project.

Matthew Tharrett is a writer, filmmaker, and above all else, a Britney fan. He once shared a milkshake with Selena Gomez.
@mattharrett