A high school volleyball and baseball coach, Nate Alfson, publicly came out as gay in a national Outsports article, knowing full well his conservative Catholic school administration might fire him for being open about who he is. To his pleasant surprise, he was met with support and acceptance at the Catholic school, St. Mary High School of rural Dell Rapids, South Dakota.
Alfson, who is 25, made the decision to publicly come out last week when his moving article was published on Outsports, describing his long struggle of hiding his identity, terrified of judgment from others in his rural and conservative area, and then embracing the liberating opportunity of being open with who he is.
Immediately after Alfson's letter was published, Alfson received overwhelmingly positive reactions from his community. In KSFY ABC's coverage, which can be watched below, Alfson said, "Its been amazing. I've had nothing really but amazing comments."
Although Alfson was pleased to receive supportive reactions from the community in general, he knew that he was running a real risk of being fired by St. Mary High School. Last May, nine teachers who were unjustly fired from their Catholic schools for being LGBTQ or an ally joined the Human Rights Campaign in writing a letter to Pope Francis, requesting a meeting to address the trend of these employment discrimination cases at Catholic schools. GLAAD's coverage of this letter details several of these recent cases. Regarding this fear, Alfson said he was "prepared for the worst."
Earlier this week, however, Alfson was overwhelmed with joy when a meeting with the administration proved his fears would be unmet. Alfson told Outsports:
The meeting with the school went great. We talked about being on the same page as each other and that they were willing to walk through this with me and support me. They want me to be their volleyball coach again and that I was a great role model to the athletes.
I couldn't be happier that they are supportive and want me to be a part of the coaching team. It's a sense of relief to be able to move forward and focus on volleyball and the girls. This season is about them and the hard work they put in. The support has been amazing and I can't wait to live a free life!