US student tennis star has come out as gay and spoken about his attempted suicide when he was closeted.
Matt Dooley, senior student and tennis player at Notre Dame University in Indiana who came out as a gay in an article for Outsports on 3 March, has spoken about the ‘overwhelmingly positive’ feedback he has received since.
In the piece, Dooley wrote about how hard it was growing up knowing he was gay.
‘Since my childhood, I was taught that being gay – a secret buried inside me since middle school – I was bad, I was wrong, and I was unworthy of respect’ he said.
Dooley went on to describe studying and competing at a strictly Catholic University also had detrimental effects on his wellbeing.
‘I arrived on the campus of Notre Dame completely aware of the conservative environment and what to expect’ he said.
‘This institution’s religious affiliations and its resulting culture can be easily described as a pressure cooker for someone struggling with his sexual orientation.’
The 22-year-old tennis star also revealed details of his suicide attempt and the aftermath.
‘After a night of heavy drinking, I took a particular bottle of pills that I had been saving, and I left my dorm with the intention of never returning’ he said.
‘I didn’t even think it was worthwhile to leave a note; I had convinced myself that I wouldn’t be missed.’
Since the article was published he has thanked people for their support and described his team mates at Notre Dame as a ‘brotherhood.’
‘Thank you to all of you who voiced your support today. It’s been unbelievable to see the positive impact of a few words’ said Dooley on Twitter.
Dooley is now working with the You Can Play initiative, which fights sexual discrimination in sports.
Dooley’s story comes at a time when LGBT players in team sports are a hot topic. Last month US football athlete Michael Sam came out as gay, prompting a huge debate about the acceptance and visibility of LGBT athletes.