College football defensive end Mitch Eby comes out as gay
Eby gave a moving coming-out speech to his Chapman University football team on March 18 that sent them into applause. One teammate called him his hero.
Mitch Eby had been repeating the word “gay” to himself for months. Not quietly, but out loud as he was driving, studying or lying in bed. He decided months ago that he wasn’t yet used to saying the word or using it to describe himself. He felt funny about it, but that had to change: He would say it out loud to himself until it didn’t sound funny anymore. Finally accepting that he was gay, Eby wanted to be comfortable saying the word when it came time to say it to the people he cared about most.
For the junior defensive end on the Chapman University football team, his teammates and coaches were near the top of that list. The team’s 2013 campaign was a stellar success, finishing 8-1 with only a blown 10-point fourth quarter lead to the University of Redlands standing between them and a spot in the NCAA playoff. The men of the Panthers football team represent Eby’s closest friends and roommates – the nearest group he has to a family away from home.
Hiding his identity from these men had eaten at him for a year. Coming out to them became a necessary – but difficult – decision.
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