Coming out as lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender (LGBT) in the world of sports still presents significant challenges for athletes, but the captain of the men's volleyball team at New York University is just one person who is hoping to change that.
Jay Hayes, who is also a senior at NYU, has directed and starred in a poignant "It Gets Better" video sanctioned by his school's athletics department. "I know I can achieve anything I can set my mind on doing, and I can do that while being out, and being proud of who I am," the Illinois says in the clip for the LGBT youth advocacy group The Trevor Project.
"Athletics is the next frontier for gay rights," Hayes told NYU Local about his decision to produce the video. "When you look at the civil rights movement, it wouldn’t have been as successful if a person like Jackie Robinson hadn’t been there. I really hope that a gay athlete comes out soon. I think that professional sports these days are just a business and these players know that it could hurt the brand and the bottom line if they came out."
Also appearing in the video are Jolie Ward, NYU's head women's volleyball coach who is a lesbian, and Scott Donie, the school's assistant swimming and diving coach, as well as members of various sports teams. "Too often, people are bullied for their sexual orientation or their perceived sexual orientation," Donie says. "As a diver and an athlete, this is something I experienced growing up."
Check out some openly LGBT athletes from around the world below: