Three kids. Three timezones. One mission. This is the banner that welcomes you to the new blog, Walk the Road.
After meeting last year on the website, The Gay Youth Corner, Brad, Robert and Ben decided they wanted to do more. Brad had the idea to start a blog and, with a little help from Jim from OutSports.com, Brad called on Robert and Ben to kick things off.
Brad Usselman, 16, is a runner from Washington state in the Pacific time zone. Ben Newcomer, 16, is a soccer player from the Southeast in the Eastern time zone, and Robert, 17, is a soccer player from the South in the Central time zone. Robert doesn’t use his last name due to his conservative surroundings, but his photo and writing is up for the world to see on the blog.
All three guys have different backgrounds and live on the west coast, east coast and midwest, providing some pretty different points of view on how life is in their respective parts of the country.
What draws them together however, is the fact that they all love sports, and they’re all gay.
Their mission is to change the way LGBT teen athletes are viewed in the sports world, and to help others “who also have had trouble accepting, questioning, or becoming comfortable with their sexuality because of sports or other activities that they feel force them to stay hidden from the world.”
“I remember being a child, when the grass was green on both sides,
when snow meant snowmen,
when adults really had all the answers,
and I didn’t care to know anything else.
Now I’m swept up in self-acceptance, self-destruction,
To poetic introspection from Robert:
I’m a jock.
I’m a jock who likes guys.
I’m a jock who likes guys and cars.
I’m a jock who like guys and cars
I’m a jock who likes guys and cars
and poetry and is a dreamer.
To inspiring proclamations of pride from Brad:
“I know by coming out in the world of varsity
high school sports that I put a target on my back every time I race because people do not want
to be beaten by the ‘gay’ kid.
I accept that challenge.
Now, if you are also an athlete on any sporting level will you accept the challenge as well?
It has fueled my competitive drive to push myself every single day.”
Above all, the new blog is a window to the soul for some young kids growing up gay and bravely breaking stereotypes — the potential to inspire hundreds of other kids is incredible.
This week, the guys took some time out of their busy schedules to chat with TalkAboutEquality.
TAE: When did you realize you were gay?
Robert: I knew from a pretty early age I liked guys, however I never accepted it until 5 – 6 weeks ago.
Brad: I realized I was gay in late elementary school, but i never fully accepted the fact that i was until late middle school. I always tried to deny the fact to myself.
Ben: When I was in eighth grade and in ninth and tenth and eleventh. I’m still realizing quite a bit, but it began in eighth grade.
TAE: Are you out of the closet at school and if so, what was the first reaction you got from your friends at school?
Ben: I’m out of the closet for the most part. My friends just don’t care. (Of course they care about my well-being and how being gay affects me). I think I would get a similar reaction if I told my friends that I had black ancestors. I’ve only told a few friends so I’ve only known a few reactions, but many more people know (I am in high school after all.)
Robert: I’m not out at school, but I’ve told one person (biggest mistake -– he turned out to be some creepy closet-case himself and threatened to out me, but when he realized that I didn’t care he couldn’t do much -– that’s a different story though.)
Brad: I am not out of the closet yet at school but I will be on February 9. My student government is doing an anti-bullying week and I am part of the video that is being shown on that Wednesday. Most of my friends do know though and the only thing they really did was smile and give me a hug.
TAE: When it was toughest, when you maybe thought there was no one to turn to, was there a person who inspired you and gave you the courage to be who you are?
Ben: I’m not sure I have a single “hero.”
Brad: I met a guy named Evan in the beginning of 2010 over the internet. He goes to Yale now but he has always been the person who has helped me through my hardest times. I always know he is there if i need to talk to someone. He is also gay.
Robert: Easy — Ben. I was texting him about what I should do; should I tell my mom, or should I stay where I was in my comfort zone? Prior to the day that I wrote my mom, I had thought of running my car off the side of the road, thinking it would end my problems, but I decided not to and for that I am a much happier person for that.
TAE: Why did you start your blog?
Robert: Brad came to me with the idea of starting a blog. Even though we didn’t have a specific direction we wanted to take it in, we were lucky enough to have the help of Jim from OutSports help us out quite a bit. It’s still a learning process and will continue to change as progress does. I personally want to have the feeling that I can be heard and at the same time, help someone –- even if it’s only one person.
Ben: Brad asked me and I saw an opportunity to write, to voice my thoughts. Isn’t that a dream of every teenager?
Brad: I started the blog to make sure that the younger generation does not go through the same internal struggles that i went through. I want all LGBT athletes to know that there are other people like them. I hope this blog will provide a place for everyone though to come and feel comfortable as well as a place they can turn to if they need someone to talk to.
I hope the country realizes that the decisions they are making about marriage equality is effecting the younger generations and maybe even some of their children. Hopefully once we realize that everyone deserves the right to marry their loved one our country will help lead a path to were everyone in the world will be able to marry their loved one.
The boys have never all met, (aside from a quick handshake between Robert and Ben), but they have a dream that they might meet on the Ellen DeGeneres Show soon. In fact, someone even built them a Facebook page to help try and make that happen.
In a time when so many young people are reaching out for help, when their words are so frequently falling on deaf ears, I can’t think of something more inspiring than the work that is being done by these guys.
Great work… Hope to see you on Ellen soon!