Sean Coyne

As an undergrad, I was on the track and field team. My best friend and fellow hurdler, Tony, had come over to my room before practice. He asked to use my computer to check for something. What I forgot was that I had left an instant message conversation between myself and a former lover from high school, which laid out pretty clearly my sexual orientation. When Tony acknowledged he had seen it, I was so embarrassed and horrified I literally hid my face. Thankfully, he could tell I did not want to discuss it and did not pursue a conversation about the topic.

The next 24 hours were perhaps the worst of my life. I was stressed that Tony was going to tell everyone what he found out about me and I was too scared to bring myself to talk to Tony about it. I knew that once I had that conversation, I was fully admitting to myself that I was gay.

By the next day I couldn’t handle the uncertainty of whether Tony would keep my secret, so I confronted him in private. He talked before I could get any words out and made me feel like the weight of the world had been lifted from me, saying, “Coyne, you don’t have to worry about me telling anyone about you being gay. It’s your business to tell, not mine.”

What made these words so comforting was not that he would keep my secret, but he clearly accepted me as his best friend still even though I was gay. Because of his support, soon after I decided to tell my other close friends from the team, my coach, and my parents. I had truly been freed and had never felt better.