A Canadian ice hockey player has become the first out athlete to tell his story for the You Can Play Project, which aims to tackle homophobia in sport.
Scott Heggart, a player for Lanark-Carleton Minor Hockey League,
posted a video on the organization's website yesterday (26 March) and believes You Can Play's latest push will save the lives of bullied gay teens, especially in the sports world.
The 19-year-old student at the University of Ottawa said coming out to his friends and teammates was 'terrifying'.
'I had every reason to expect that my family was going to love and support me,' he says in the video.
'But I couldn't say the same about my friends, my classmates, my teammates.
'I was scared that if they found out, I wouldn't be able to face criticism. I was scared I would be forced off my hockey team, off my football team, my basketball team.
'I was terrified I wouldn't be able to face bullying at school and that I'd just stay home. I would be huddled up, shut off from the outside. I was scared that this would ruin me.'
He said as a result he would 'punish' himself for his feelings and contemplated suicide.
'When I was 13 and thinking about killing myself, this campaign would have made a world of difference,' he added.
'I love hockey. I always have and I always will.
'For me to have been able to watch as my heroes looked into a camera and said that it’s OK, it’s fine, that they would treat me the way they would treat anyone else, I don't know if I would have ever thought about suicide.
'I can honestly say I would have had a much easier time accepting myself.'
Heggart began documenting his coming out experience anonymously by posting videos on YouTube, one new clip every day for a year from 2008 to 2009.
In the video series, he discussed topics including religion and gay marriage and featured interviews with friends and family.
He came out to his teammates in grade 11.