Black teen’s tough choice: play sports or be a fag

Excerpt from "Walt Loves the Bearcat"

cd9ae-ballin10_0155“I grew up in a sports family, so I had my sports dreams. I played the big three–basketball and football, from little league to junior high, baseball just in little league.

Then in my late teens, I dabbled in soccer and tennis. But I never got that much joy from actually playing sports. There was always something in the way, my body, my mind … I was six-four, 215, when I was six.

One time, I was at an alumni function as a cheerleader and this UCLA recruiting coach told the audience that it was all about getting guys with prototype bodies like mine. I always had the form, just none of the grace. When you’re a kid, that means they stick you underneath the basket in basketball and on the line in football.

Call it what you want, but I never wanted to be on the court or the field and not have a legitimate turn in the spotlight. I was not born to block for somebody else. Or to attack somebody on defense.

I was born to carry the ball, maybe not literally, but I was born to be … center stage, at least for part of the time, in the game of life. I warred with my coaches over it, especially in football.

I finally gave up trying to fit into the ‘team’ concept in junior high, coincidentally around the time I was getting a major jones for this very tall, hot blond guy trying out for the 9th grade basketball team.

The coach had envisioned us as twin towers. Between the blond kid and my exploding feelings for guys in general, it was all looking like a train wreck in the locker room with me as the only victim.

Instead of risking my life as I knew it, I quit basketball. Forever. I joined this peer tutoring program where I got paid helping other kids do their homework. I had served my official notice to the world–my basketball family included–that I was no longer a jock-in-training.

I got out of sports because I was scared of everyone finding out I was starting to become a fag”

—from Walt Loves the Bearcat
by Randy Boyd

A Lambda Literary Award Finalist for Best Romance

“Warm-spirited … resonates with soulful queries into the nature of love and life.” Bay Area Reporter

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