This week I talked with Kate Fagan, ESPN columnist and former University of Colorado basketball player, about her new, must-read memoir, The Reappearing Act. This timely book addresses sexual identity in the closeted and paranoid world of big-time college sports. We've all been following the coming-out stories of male athletes Jason Collins, Michael Sam and, recently, Derrick Gordon, but it's rare to hear about the experience of a lesbian female athlete. Not only did she have to deal with the homophobic culture of college sports but her best friends were part of Colorado's Fellowship of Christian Athletes, where they ran weekly Bible studies at an Evangelical Free Church. Fagan actually joined them for nearly a year while she was struggling with her sexual identity, even as they prayed for others "living a sinful lifestyle." In The Reappearing Act she shares her personal coming-out story as she embraces her true self.
I also talked with Fagan about her spin on LGBT issues. When asked about her personal commitment to LGBT civil rights, she stated:
That's a fine line, because I am a member of the media. I'm a columnist and feature writer for ESPN, and because of my relationships that I have with folks who do work at the You Can Play Project, which works to end homophobia in sports, and at Break the Silence, which specifically focuses on ending homophobia in women's sports, I do often get stories about female athletes and male athletes who want to come out, and they want me to be the one to tell that story. I think in this day and age in sports that these stories are important and people are interested in them. So it's actually good business to develop strong relationships with these communities and be able to tell their stories in a sophisticated, mature way, and I dance that line of journalism and also wanting to tell these stories in a really strong, compassionate way, which I think all journalists want to do about any story. But my personal experience of playing women's college basketball and seeing all of this closeting and fear in all these issues, on a personal level, in my own time, I do like to support certain groups and speak, usually to very small gatherings, about women's sports and how we can tackle some of these issues. So I have a personal commitment to trying the best that I can to help the environment in women's sports, which is where my passion lies, because of my personal experience that I write about.
Kate Fagan is a columnist and feature writer for espnW, ESPN.com and ESPN: The Magazine. Previously she spent three seasons covering the 76ers for the Philadelphia Inquirer. Her work was cited in the anthology The Best American Sports Writing 2013, and she has also been featured on Longreads, a site that curates the best in long-form journalism and fiction. She lives in Brooklyn, New York.
For more on Kate Fagan, visit bykatefagan.com.
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