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Derek Schell, first NCAA Division II openly gay basketball player

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In a first-person story account posted by Outsports, Derek Schell has come out as being the first openly gay NCAA Division II basketball player at Hillsdale College (Hillsdale, MI). He has known for most of his life that he was different; "the feat of being different led me to act differently in separate aspects of life." He attempted to mask this feeling by investing most of his time in training for basketball and being competitive in the classroom. He felt that if he focused on his athletic and scholarly talents that attention would be drawn from his personal characteristics. In his story, he states; "To be honest, I got good grades. I won a state championship. I dated pretty girls. And yet something still wasn't right."

Playing a sport and being an athlete is in the family; both his parents were collegiate players, and his sister was a three-sport athlete in high school and later played basketball at the Division I level. Being brought up in the sports world, Schell knew the stigmas and stereotypes that are embedded in the culture. He knew there was certain standards of masculinity that were to be held, and he strived to live up to them. Those viewpoints conflicted with his feelings though. What he was feeling and his understanding of what it meant to be an athlete left him in a confusing position. He "couldn't figure out how to make those two concepts coexist." Who he was becoming contradicted with the person he felt he was supposed to be.

When Schell decided to be honest with himself, that was when he had many realizations;

"My day-to-day actions were consumed by this increasing need to hide my sexuality. As it turned out, not only could I still love the God that created me in his image, but that he loved me back. Not only was I not feminine, but I was a real man for owning my life and whom I loved. Not only was I not an outcast, but I would be more easily accepted being my whole self rather than a fragment of Derek. As a young freshman, I still did not see those things that seem so obvious to me now."

Not only is Derek Schell able to be true to who he is, he also has support. The support from his family took time, but they are loving and accepting of who Derek is. He also has him team mates, coaches, and friends who all support him as well. He has high hopes that his story will help generations to follow. Schell hopes that his story will help younger LGBT youth who are living in fear of who they are, overcome their fear and realize that "they have nothing to fear and they are perfect the way they are."

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