Speakers Discuss Gay Experience in Athletics

Harvard student athletes and professional sports figures spoke about the experience of being gay and an athlete to a capacity crowd of almost 200 in Harvard Hall on Sunday.

The forum, which was organized by Cliff S. Davidson '02, a co-founder of the student group Beyond Our Normal Differences (BOND), featured two Harvard athletes and a Harvard coach who are openly gay. Two former National Football League (NFL) players--one of whom is gay--also shared their experiences and insights at the event.

Much of the discussion focused on being gay in Harvard athletics.


Michael E. Crosby '02 and Katherine M. Callaghan '03, both student athletes, and Jen L. Allard, the head coach of the softball team, talked about the process of coming out to their teams and offered recommendations to create a more tolerant environment in the Athletic Department.

Allard, who came out to her softball team in 1997, told the audience that she was "shocked" by the amount of support she received from the Athletic Department, but she still sees much room for improvement.

"As a coach, I'd like to see increased dialogue among teams, and resources for gay athletes need to come more to the forefront," Allard said. "It's a big learning experience to have a gay athlete on a team."

Crosby, who came out last year to the men's water polo team, said one of the reasons for his participation in Sunday's panel was to "pave the road" for other closeted athletes to come out.

Tom H. Elke '01, the captain of the team when Crosby came out, said the team benefited from Crosby's decision.

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