I sent a quick text off to Andy and Aaron to have them come over to my place and meet Steven. I didn’t see any issues with him moving in and he wanted to lay low which was perfect for our community.
Aaron and I were speaking to each other again but it was still strained. Knowing Aaron and Andy well, I wanted them to have a chance to meet Steven and get their opinions on them. The only person I was vaguely worried about was Shawn.
Shawn as an anathema in my life. You never quite knew what he was thinking or what he really felt about something until you crossed a line. Then, he’d give you a passive, almost demurring, explanation. You knew how you had transgressed but were left wondering why it had taken so long for him to speak up. In spite of that and his being straight, I had fallen in love with him years ago and that hadn’t changed. As I thought about Shawn, I shot him a quick message too asking him to come over. Shawn had terrible luck with dating but I’d never known him to be wrong as a judge of character. He had that innate ability to give a yea/nay from even a brief meeting with someone.
I knew that Shawn wouldn’t know who Steven was and that worked my favor. Aaron texted me and said they’d be there in about 15 minutes.
I turned my attention back to Steven, “What was the worst thing about playing?”
Steven let out a laugh, “Well…it was coming out.” and with that, he was telling the story as Shawn came in.
Steven stepped back from the podium and cleared his throat. He took a drink of water and stepped back up to the podium, as out on the ice, he saw a sea of red lights and the twinkle of hundreds of camera flashes.
“Good morning. My name is Steven Schmidgall of the Duluth Ironmen. For seven seasons, I have played for the Ironmen and for the last four seasons, I have been this team’s captain. There have been many great things that have happened during those seven seasons. The team has built itself up from being a new team my first season and has rebuilt itself from the worst team in the league to making to the finals of the Hargrove Cup last season. Many players have started great careers here. I, myself, started my IHSL career here in the Twin Ports, and this is where I plan to finish my career.
Many things happen behind the scenes of any professional sporting team. There are players who get involved with drugs, gambling, prostitution, and players who do nothing for anyone else unless it furthers their stake in the team or getting a better deal. Myself, I’ve spent many hours volunteering at St. Mary’s Hospital as well as Children’s Hospital. I’ve helped make sure that the Twin Ports Santa Anonymous meets its goal each year as the mystery donor who makes up that difference. Do I do it because it gets me in the spotlight? No. If I wanted to be in the spotlight, I’d not make an anonymous contribution. I’d be having a media event like this one to hand some oversized check to them. I do it because I live here in the Twin Ports and I can help others. It is what we all are supposed to do as members of a community. Community involvement is one of the strongest aspects of the Ironmen organization.
However, through my entire hockey career, I’ve been harboring a secret. A secret that I thought I could take to my grave with me and I hoped that I would take it to my grave. But it’s that spirit of helping others and reaching out to help those who need it that leads me to tell the world.” Steven paused for a moment, visibly moved, though it’s not clear if it’s the spirit of helping others or the fear of what he’s about to do. “I’ve been hiding the fact that I’m gay.” Steven said haltingly then paused as he turned visibly pale. As Steven gripped the podium to keep from passing out, a gasp went up from the media who started screaming questions.
I’ll answer questions shortly. Some of the coaching staff and players have been aware of my homosexuality for the last few seasons. I will still be playing for the Ironmen this season unless the front office or the coaching staff decides to release me or trade me. I will respect their decision.” Steven paused, “I’ve decided to come out because too many gay children don’t have role models. Without proper role models and the intense pressures from society that homosexuality is immoral and wrong, many gay and lesbian youth become depressed and many try to kill themselves. Almost forty percent of teen-age suicide attempts are gay and lesbian youth. Any one of those attempted suicides is one too many. I can no longer live in silence and live a lie. If I didn’t try to reach out to those children and be role model, I would be no better than all the pressures in society that are pushing these teenagers to suicide . Why do they do it? As I said, I think it’s a lack of positive role models and the lack of societal support that they get from the media. That is why I have decided to come out and risk my career, to give the gay and lesbian youth someone to have as a role model, to show that they can be the best that they can be and to have hope in this world.”
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