How far we have come! Derek Schell, the first openly gay NCAA Division II basketball player, writes about his journey towards self-acceptance
...In experiencing opposite ends of the spectrum in homophobia and in unconditional love, I have learned so many things from so many different types of people and haven’t been limited to just one way of thinking. It has been a blessing in disguise. My sister’s favorite quote, "Life is too short to be anything but happy," now resonates more significantly in my life. Not only is life too short to dwell on other people’s expectations for you, but it is your decision to choose your attitude and how you react to your surroundings.
For a while I always focused on what I didn’t have and what I wasn’t, instead of loving myself for every little thing that makes me Derek. I no longer feel victimized, but rather lucky that God made me exactly who I am with the opportunities that I’ve experienced and those that lie ahead. I learned that you can never give up and you need to fight for yourself each and every day.
Sometimes the darkest times in life are only doorways to the best moments of your life, the ones you were meant to experience and live to see. I wanted to do this so that the generations to follow have an example; so that the younger LGBT youth who live afraid of who they are becoming can know they have nothing to fear and they are perfect the way they are. My challenge to you, whoever is reading this, is to be honest with yourself and how you’re feeling. God doesn’t make mistakes. Don’t keep saying you’re fine. You can be who you are and still be an athlete. You can do all the things you want to do and live a beautiful life that you’ve imagined for yourself. Find your peace of mind knowing you are giving your best self to the world. Be brave. Be love. But most of all, be you.
Derek Schell is a senior at NCAA Division II Hillsdale College, majoring in International Business, and is a guard on the men's basketball team. He can be reached via email (firstname.lastname@example.org) and followed on Twitter (@dschell4).
Full essay here