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Gay skier explains how fear almost made him give up his passion for sports photography

Gay skier explains how fear almost made him give up his passion for sports photography

Liam Moya

Are you a gay man who feels self-conscious around straight guys? Do you worry they might think you’re eyeing them up?

If so, you may identify with the anxieties experienced by one young gay man.

Liam Moya has written a moving account of his life and passions – including his love of sports photography.

The competitive college skier attends Rocky Mountain College in Billings, Montana.

Writing for OutSports he says that he has never had an issue being out as an athlete. He’s been skiing since the age of 8 and racing since the age of 14.

A post shared by Liam Moya (@l_moyaa) on

‘Ski racing, being an individual sport, allows me to compete against others, as well as myself. You are trying to be the fastest athlete down the hill, and you are trying to be faster than your last run. It’s about bettering your own time, as well as advancing on others.’

He says when it came to his teammates, ‘I never really had an issue being gay because I never cared about what they thought.’

However, although it doesn’t impact on his ability to compete, being gay did influence his attitude towards another of his passions: sports photography.

‘Still very much concerned about them finding out I was gay’

‘I got into sports photography as a high school sophomore when one of the players on the boys ice hockey asked me to take photos for the team. I ended up loving the challenge of sports photography, especially in low-light situations.’

He says he was quickly ‘hooked.’

‘I didn’t cover football and basketball until junior year and then it became incredibly nerve-wracking. Despite me not really being friends with the athletes themselves, I was still very much concerned about them finding out I was gay.’

Liam says he found himself especially scared of the football players, who all towered over him.

‘They could easily beat me up if they wanted to. I was a pretty small guy — 5 feet 11 and only 150 pounds with hardly any strength. It wasn’t until senior year that I really started lifting weights, but I still couldn’t defend myself against a football player if one picked on me.’

Courtesy Liam Moya Photography
Courtesy Liam Moya Photography Liam Moya

He admits that he bought into the stereotypical image of footballer players being the athletes not to be messed with.

‘I was afraid they were going to find out the guy taking their pictures was gay. I didn’t want them to humiliate me or bully me, and particularly stopping me from doing what I enjoyed.

‘I didn’t take their pictures as a form of stalking them or being creepy as I feared they would perceive. I did it because photography gives me a creative outlet and shooting sports gives me a challenge as a photographer. I was terrified of them finding out.’

Quitting

Such were the magnitude of Liam’s fears, that he decided to quit sports photography. He made an announcement on his photography Facebook page that he was giving it up. The posting passed without comment. This was his first indication that his fears were maybe imaginary.

A few months later, Liam Moya decided to mark graduation today from Concord-Carlisle High School in Concord, Massachusetts, by publicly coming out on Facebook.

‘The rumor is true. You can now confirm what you’ve heard about me. Whether or not you accept it, it’s who I am, but it’s been the source of most of my problems,’ he wrote on his personal Facebook page.

‘Yes, I am gay, and I tried everything I could to bury it all from y’all. I didn’t want anyone knowing this but now it’s inevitable.’

He went on to explain that being gay was why he quit sports photography.

‘For those who are wondering why I didn’t come out earlier was because of the sports. I’ve read and heard that athletes are notoriously the least accepting people out there. While I hoped it wasn’t true at CC, I didn’t want to take the risk. I didn’t want to get outcast as the “gay photographer”.’

‘Love and acceptance can come from where you least expect it’

Liam says he was blown away by the number of supportive message he received.

‘Five or six football players commented on it or messaged me directly saying that they were fully supportive, and that I had nothing to be afraid of.

‘One even said, speaking for the whole football team, that they appreciated my photos, and, although it can be hard, it doesn’t matter what other people think as long as I am happy. He personally admired my coming out.’

He says it made him realize he shouldn’t second-guess other people’s reactions. Or make assumptions about other athletes.

This fall marks 5 years of shooting football 🏈

A post shared by Liam Moya (@l_moyaa) on

‘The ones that you are most afraid of may be the people who are the most accepting. They may just surprise you.

‘And obviously the jocks aren’t big idiots who hate people that aren’t “normal” or “like them.” Love and acceptance can come from where you least expect it.’

Liam Moya has now resumed sports photography at college. You can check out some of his work on Facebook.

GSN has approached the young photographer for further comment.

H/T: Read more on this story at OutSports

See also

What’s the best way to come out to homophobic parents?