Coming-Out Experiences of a Gay Male Volleyball Player

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A small but growing body of research has investigated the experience of gay male athletes “coming out” in sport, a historically homophobic environment. In this exploratory case study, the experiences of “Mark,” a male volleyball player who came out prior to a championship season, were examined using social identity perspective and athletic identity theory as the frameworks for analysis. Data sources included interviews with Mark, interviews with informants, and Mark’s social-media posts. A narrative of Mark’s coming-out experience was developed and explored in light of the theoretical frameworks, and 2 themes emerged from the data: gay athlete as a (dis)qualifier and “It’s not about the skills, it’s about the attitude,” which explores Mark’s psychological development and its relationship with athletic performance. Implications and strategies for sport psychology consultants working with gay male athletes are discussed.

Mullin is with the Exercise Science and Sport Studies Dept., School of Health, Physical Education, and Recreation, Springfield College, Springfield, MA. Leone is with the Dept. of Movement Arts, Health Studies, and Leisure Studies—Public Health, College of Education and Allied Studies, Bridgewater State University, Bridgewater, MA. Pottratzis with the Dept. of Psychology, East Central University, Ada, OK.

Mullin (emullin@springfieldcollege.edu) is corresponding author.
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