Sam Johnson – considered one of the best teen soccer players in the state of Washington – had kept his secret throughout high school.
But after 49 people were shot to death inside of a gay nightclub in Orlando, Florida, he decided it was time to tell family and friends – and the world – that he is gay.
‘I have been silent for a very long time. I have listened, I have observed and I have reflected on a proper time and place to do this; but I decided that the time was now,’ he writes in a letter published today on Outsports.
‘You all are aware of what has happened in Orlando, and regardless of your opinions of the topic, a man walked into a bar and targeted people of the LGBT community and killed them, and that is the simple fact.’
Johnson, 18, decided that this anti-gay massacre was not going to force him into the shadows.
‘You grow up being afraid of who are you, and then eventually you come to terms with it. And then something like this happens and you go right back to where you were,’ he writes.
But he’s not where he was.
He’s now out and proud after completing four years as a varsity starter at O’Dea High School located in a suburb of Seattle.
Johnson is now headed to California where he will will play Division 3 soccer for Whittier College.
But he does so with a heavy heart for those in Orlando who lost their lives and for those they left behind.
‘Put yourself in the shoes of the mothers, fathers and siblings of those people who won’t come home after their Saturday night out, put yourself in the shoes of people who have to watch their backs and live in fear for simply expressing who they love.’