Out student athlete founds LGBT mentoring program

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Rex Woodbury came out while an athlete at university, and struggled to reconcile his sexuality with his love of sport.

In an interview with Outsports, he said he tried to keep up the appearance of being straight while studying at the prestigious Dartmouth College.

He said: “My teammates — like all male teams — often talked about girls. Before I came out, I would try to weigh in and go along with the conversation. I was really just trying to play the part.”

But then he was asked to present a video on homophobia in sport, and accidentally came out in the process. He said: “I decided to go a bit off-script and get a little personal.

“I told the crowd, ‘This is something I’ve personally struggled with. I’m gay. Society tells us that you can’t be athletic, masculine, and also gay. I’m tired of that. I hope that we can take the next step forward and realize that who you are attracted to and who you love has nothing to do with how well you play the game or how committed you are to the team.’

“It was a very public way of coming out. But it was something I needed to do, and it was a huge weight off my chest.”

Now, he’s founded “Connect” – a service that pairs young LGBT people with mentors who can offer them advice and support in whatever way is best for them.

He says: “When I was in high school — and even during my first two years at Dartmouth — I was really struggling with my sexuality.

“It was a constant source of pain. I didn’t have a sense of who I was.

“I think that having a mentor at a time like that — someone to talk to — would have really helped me navigate that tough period.”