Two University of Minnesota men’s track teammates who came out to one another are now dating.
From NFL prospect Michael Sam to NBA veteran Jason Collins, being an openly gay athlete is rare, but nothing new. What makes this story unique is two gay athletes, teammates to be exact, whose support for one another blossomed into a relationship. The story of two teammates-turned-boyfriends is breaking stereotypes about masculinity, homosexuality and what it means to be an athlete.
Track athletes Justin Rabon and Brad Neumann opened up to one another about their sexuality in the fall of 2014, and within weeks the two began dating. But keeping it a secret was taking a toll on their relationship.
“When you’re hiding something like that your entire life, no happiness will come out of a relationship,” Rabon said.
The following year, the couple knew that it was best for the future of their relationship to come out. But while being Division I athletes, it would take extra courage.
“Being a college athlete definitely made it more difficult,” said Rabon. “You’re kinda expected to act a certain way.”
When the time was right, Rabon and Neumann began opening up not only about their sexuality, but their relationship.
“We both took the opportunity to tell our teammates, friends and everyone,” said Rabon. “They embraced it so well.”
Rabon said he was pleased with the amount of support their teammates offered.
“The guys were super happy for us,” Rabon said.
Neumann and Rabon’s love story captured the attention of many, and initially appeared on OUTSPORTS.com, a website dedicated to LGBT athletes. They have since appeared on BuzzFeed, BET and a multitude of local news stations.
Neumann and Rabon hope that their story breaks common stereotypes about homosexuality, and opens the door for more LGBT athletes.
“You can’t stereotype one particular person” Rabon said. “A D1 athlete can be gay, the president could be gay.”
“It sucks hiding in the closet,” Rabon said. “It sucks not being yourself.”
Benton Johnson can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.