Share Your Story: Mike Brosseau
"So, do you think that I'm hot?"
Back in October of 2010, I made the decision to start telling my friends at Marist College that I’m gay. Only knowing them for a couple of months made it a daunting task, but I knew that I would rather let the cat out of the bag sooner rather than later. In this instance, one of my closest friends Chris had managed to turn an awkward situation into a funny one…by asking if I thought he was attractive after coming out to him freshman year. I am being truly honest when I tell you that this was by far the greatest experience I have ever had coming out to a friend. Chris had managed to find a unique way to tell me, "You know what dude? That doesn’t matter to me. Just be yourself."
A member of the Marist College Men’s Varsity Crew team, Chris is your typical jock except that he’s not typical at all. Nor is Adam Kemp. Or Chuckie Looney, Emma O’Connor, and various athletes on campus that I have since become friends with, all of whom know that I am gay. Since October 2010, I would argue that almost everyone I’ve come into contact with has figured out that I’m gay and, frankly, not one student nor has any student-athlete at Marist treated me differently for it one bit. I’ve truly had a dream experience here at Marist, not having to worry about hiding who I am from anyone. Whether it is the quarterback of the football team, or the center on our men’s basketball team, they openly accept my sexuality. If I was anything but myself, I’m not sure that they’d even like me that much. I would argue that at least one person from every varsity sport here at Marist knows my story.
Coming out to my friends has made my experience as an LGBT ally for equality in sports at Marist much easier. Having the ability to be myself among these athletes has allowed me to become a man. Maybe I’m just really lucky. Maybe this is a sign that society has finally gotten the damn message. Regardless of your sexual orientation, you should be able to be yourself in the world of sports, regardless of the level of competition. The message has been delivered loud and clear and that we will fight for equality because it is a humane right. Quite simply, if I can throw for touchdowns or hit the winning lay-up, it should not be impacted by sexual orientation. I personally am not a varsity athlete here at Marist. I am; however, immersed in the culture of our athletic programs here, and the undergraduate student body of roughly 4,500 students and student-athletes. I am surprised everyday by people who really pay no attention to my sexual orientation.
Attending high school in a small, suburban town, I was not at all the man I am today. Dishonest with others and myself about who I truly was, I let the perception of others define my high school experience. At Marist, I have become the person I have always desired to be. Quite frankly, without the community here at Marist, none of this would have happened. That is what we are—a community of people who accept one another. After all, Chris IS attractive and his courage to act as he did in that situation showed that I was going to have experiences better than I could imagine at Marist. Adam Kemp, a member of our Men’s Basketball team, said it best to me one day that he was proud of how far I’ve come in terms of being comfortable with myself and my sexual orientation. Those words meant more to me than I can ever explain. That moment, it hit me—I was going to be okay. Jim Edgehill, a former basketball coach of mine, used to talk about having dreams and goals outside of sports. Every young kid wants to be Larry Bird, or Michael Jordan, David Ortiz, Tom Brady, the list goes on. But not all of us can be. Having dreams and goals, mine being fighting for equality in sports regardless of sexual orientation, has allowed me to come full circle and understand why he focused so much on life outside of playing sports. The impact we make is not on the playing surface, it’s what we do outside of it.
What frustrates me the most is that we lack an active professional athlete who has come out to fight for equality. I identify with the risks they would be taking with their livelihood at stake. My livelihood may not be dependent on a sport and millions of dollars, but I risked it just the same. If I was a professional athlete who could make a difference in young adults’ lives like my own, I would do what a true leader in sports would do. I would be a pioneer for a movement that has been lacking a leader all along. I realize the nerve I have asking an athlete to risk giving up everything he may have achieved thus far in their professional career, but how can you have anything if you cannot have honesty with yourself about whom you truly are inside and who you want to be? The years I spent playing sports closeted were miserable, and I didn’t know it then but MY community needed and still needs you, a pioneer in our movement for equality. As an individual, you need to be brave enough to challenge yourself and dare to do what is considered to be impossible. As Winston Churchill once said, “You have enemies? Good. That means you’ve stood up for something, sometime in your life.” Those who know me know that I never stop fighting. My mother, my family, friends, etc., will all tell you I can be as stubborn as anyone you have ever met. I do not want to ever give up. I fight for what I love and I’ll fight until I can’t fight anymore.
Marist College '14