Role models of greatness.

Here you will discover the back stories of kings, titans of industry, stellar athletes, giants of the entertainment field, scientists, politicians, artists and heroes – all of them gay or bisexual men. If their lives can serve as role models to young men who have been bullied or taught to think less of themselves for their sexual orientation, all the better. The sexual orientation of those featured here did not stand in the way of their achievements.

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Andrew Goldstein: Ivy League & Pro Lacrosse

Andrew Goldstein (b. 1983) was the first American male team-sport professional athlete to be openly gay during his playing career. He was a goalkeeper for the Long Island Lizards of Major League Lacrosse, but was originally drafted in 2005 – as an out, homosexual athlete – by his hometown team, the Boston Cannons. “Not a single person ever mentioned my sexuality to me,” Goldstein remembered. “It was only about lacrosse.”

During his time as a two-time All-American Dartmouth College lacross goalie, Andrew said: “I have always been an athlete. I just wanted a chance to go out there and play the sport that I love without having to hide my sexuality from my teammates, who are most of my closest friends.” And play the sport he did. Andrew was the first goalie in 30 years to have scored a goal in an NCAA tournament game. Watch him (#6) in action as he scores that goal for Dartmouth against Syracuse:

In a column for OutSports, Andrew wrote about the aftermath of his decision to come out to his team at Dartmouth during the summer of 2003. “It isn’t strange anymore, being the gay one amongst my friends, in my fraternity, on my team. It all happens in one moment, when you realize that the people who care about you will always care about you, and what is most important is to care about yourself. I told myself that I would have to be strong. I thought that people might talk about me behind my back as I walked down the street, and I worried that, on my first road trip this year with the lacrosse team, the unlucky guys who had to be my roommates would complain about sleeping in the same room as the homo. I thought that the first time I walked into the showers after a long practice, the other guys would all walk out or at least ask me to leave.

It didn’t happen like I had planned. I never had to be strong after that first moment. My friends, brothers, and teammates don’t treat my any differently because I am not any different now. I am still the loud one with my friends, the jock in my frat, and the goalie on my team. The only thing that has changed? Now girls are not afraid to approach me in a social setting and put their arm around me or even worse, grab me in an inappropriate place. I waited for people to stare at me or ask me questions or say names but it turns out I was worried about nothing all that time.

On a national level, I knew that news would spread. I wondered how this would affect my status as an athlete, but I found that the preseason honors and expectations only got higher. The world is ready for us. They may not be accustomed to us playing on their fields, dressing in their locker rooms, or taking home their MVP trophies, but when we gain their respect and show that we belong, the transition is smooth. What is new and different scares people. It might be a while before people accept gay marriages and adoptions as normal. But a bright group of 20-year-olds just trying to string together enough wins to take home the Ivy League title for a second straight year really don’t mind if I call up a boyfriend on the phone after a big game.”

Andrew made headlines off the field in 2005, when he was dubbed by ESPN to be “the most accomplished male, team-sport athlete in North America to be openly gay during his playing career.” In 2006, Andrew Goldstein was honored by being named to the OUT 100. He also received a prestigious 2006 GLAAD Media Award for the feature titled 'Andrew Goldstein', which aired on ESPN 's Sportscenter. That same year he left professional lacrosse to pursue a Ph.D. at UCLA.

Goldstein hails from a family of talented athletes. His father and sister played hockey for Brown University, and his brother played lacrosse for Amherst. A biochemistry and molecular biology major while at Dartmouth, Goldstein recently received his Ph.D. in biology from UCLA with a specific emphasis on cancer. Andrew is now a professor at UCLA, where he runs a lab focusing on prostate cancer.

With his professional sports-playing days behind him, Goldstein has turned to amateur gay athletics. It was not easy finding a lacrosse game in Los Angeles, so he returned to ice hockey. He played with the Los Angeles Blades for several years, and Andrew won a gold medal in ice hockey playing with a Toronto-based team at the 2010 Gay Games.

Now Goldstein regularly works the speech-making circuit, talking directly to athletes and coaches. His new challenge to gay athletes and allies is simple: “Coming out isn’t enough anymore, you’ve got to get in the trenches, talk to more coaches, athletes and administrators and affect real change.” His partner, Jamie, is a TV writer – not much of a sports fan – but he supports Andrew in his athletic endeavors and his advocacy against homophobia and homophobic language in sports.

What follows is from ESPN's Sportscenter, the finest TV produced segment about gay athletes that I have seen. Please share it with your families and friends.

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