College footballer says teammates had his back when he came out as bi

Jacob Van Ittersum has penned an article about his positive experiences as an openly bisexual college footballer.

The offensive lineman for Northwood University in Michigan came out publicly on Twitter in May this year.

“As little as I think this means I feel like it will relieve a lot of my stress,” he wrote at the time. “I have spent years trying to say this, but now I think I am ready to. I, Jacob Van Ittersum, am bisexual.”

Now, Van Ittersum has written a piece for LGBT+ news website Outsports, describing the positive reaction from his teammates, friends and coaches to him coming out.

In particular, he praises his friend Joey Garbarino, a quarterback on his team, for sticking up for him after someone asked if it would “be weird” showering with the offensive lineman since he came out.

Van Ittersum said his friend dismissed the question, writing: “[Garbarino] said we’re like brothers and should treat each other that way. His words and support really made me feel better.”

The footballer continued: “I had many of my friends and Northwood University teammates come up to me and say that they were proud of me and supported me.

“I was so happy to see the people I thought would be resistant to that part of me be so accepting. I’m sure there are others who may still not know or don’t accept it, but I have not heard any bad comments.”

He also opened up about the reaction of his head coach, Leonard Haynes, who initially believed Van Ittersum’s tweet was a joke.

After the footballer explained to Haynes that his post was genuine, Van Ittersum said his coach “told me he was happy for me and that if I had any problems that I could come to him and we would work it out.”

“By being an openly bisexual athlete, I want to help break the barrier for other athletes with a different sexual orientation. It shouldn’t be a big thing. We should let people be who they want to be,” Van Ittersum wrote in the article.

From my personal experience, hiding that part of me was really hurtful. It felt like I wasn’t being real and was putting on a mask.