Recently I was named captain for the Musselman swim team.
They all know about my sexuality and gratefully are accepting.
(Photo by Jeremiah Carver) I was silent about my sexuality until my junior year when I told my best friend, Ben, who was a senior at the time and on the soccer team.
I waited until after the soccer season so I wouldn't have to worry about him telling any of my teammates.
I held his hand when we went to get refreshments and when we took breaks from dancing. Jem was the date of girl at Musselman and her outside guest for the dance, while I went "alone." The girl knew Jem and I were together.I was just a freshman, and I was scared of being mocked by my teammates when I was just trying to fit in. Inwood is only about two hours from Washington, DC, and Baltimore but culturally is far from city life. The students, however, are very diverse in their culture and beliefs; the range runs from rednecks to foreign exchange students.The team threw around the words "gay" and "faggot" a lot. I live in isolated mountain area, so I didn't have any kids to hang around with when I was younger.I felt useless, which is why I dropped the sport in the senior year and focused solely on soccer. My coach for my traveling soccer team laid down the law that there was not going to be any racism or discrimination based on sexuality, which made me feel safe.I still did not have the guts to tell anyone I was gay.We danced to "Love Story" by Taylor Swift, which was a perfect song for my first dance with a guy.We both started the dance with our female friends who were our "dates." The final song came on and Jem and I danced for a brief time.Jem and I danced all night to the most popular pop songs. My friends even told me people were talking about me in a negative way in different classes. My friends courageously stood up for me and I am so proud to call them my friends. When I was a freshman I knew I was not like other guys on the Musselman High varsity soccer team.But it was the slow dance that I most remember that night at the school cafeteria -- "Remember When" by Alan Jackson. Jem and I got asked a lot if we were together and we said yes. They were always talking about their girlfriends and I always felt that I could never say anything about my sexuality. The school is named for the Musselman applesauce company and we are called the Applemen.The cold winter air and the campfire at Ben's house that night made it the perfect environment in which to tell him my news.I was scared to death, but summoned up the courage and was direct: "I hope this doesn't change our friendship but I am gay." His response was simple but it meant the world to me: "There is nothing that can change our friendship." Thankfully, Ben accepted me (he said he had suspected) and promised to not tell anyone until I was ready. I played football and soccer in the fall (in West Virginia they are in the same season).