Texting Your Way Out Of The Closet
Jed Hooper, a rugby player, is only the second professional rugby player to come out of the closet. Jed has played rugby for most of his life, starting at the young age of 6. This grueling sport is probably one of the most, if not the most, macho games an athlete can play.
No helmets and no body padding.
He is the captain of his team and a leader within his league. For someone to come out to everyone via text and a Facebook posting is tough enough. Add the implications of sharing a locker room with teammates of this grueling sport and it appears insurmountable.
Jed had met someone prior to coming out and was told they couldn’t be together if he was in the closet. This was the catalyst he needed to be open and honest with himself, his friends and his family. Jed says, “Before that, I think I had already told about ten friends and their reaction was very positive so that gave me an inkling of what might happen. And I also thought if the crap really hits the fan then at least there are ten people on my side!”
Jed first became aware he might be gay when he was 14 years old. It wasn’t until the age of 15 that in his heart of hearts he knew he was gay regardless of his tough guy rugby persona.
Jed is not without his own personal turmoil; just as so many have struggled before him. He did what most do and turned to alcohol and even self-harming with a knife “because I thought I might be able to cut this out of me.”
He was also banned from rugby for 6 months in 2009 for threatening a referee. Not being true to himself has caused a lot of anger and unwarranted issues. Sometimes we don’t make the best decisions when struggling with inner turmoil. After coming out, we always seem to reflect and wonder why we didn’t do it sooner. We get to our respective places when we get there and not a minute sooner.
One of the many topics I stress is best summed up by Hooper himself: “If anyone is reading this and they’re in the same situation as me, all I want to say is don’t bottle things up because, trust me, there is light at the end of the tunnel. The world’s not against you. If my story can help one person then this has been worth it.”
So many times we feel that we are struggling on our own. Too often we find that it’s not a struggle with society but an internal fight of the double life.
I ask that you set yourself free by being true, open and honest to yourself and everyone around you. If a hardcore kick ass rugby player can do it via social media and be accepted, I know we have hope. Social media may be one of the greatest ways to come out. It allows you to think about what you are going to say. Say it, edit it and then post it. It is a medium that allows us to explore our feelings, gather feed back while being physically disengaged at a safe distance from personal reaction, just as Jed had done with his text messages and Facebook posting.
How did you come out?
Spokes is a Richmonder and resident of Virginia for 10 years. He is a small business owner with a passion for outdoor activities - competing in numerous triathlons, sprints, olympics and half ironman distances.
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