Coming out can be a difficult process for any teenager. According to Scott Heggart, it’s even harder when you’re an athlete.
The Canadian-born Heggart, now 21 and a first-year communications student at the University of Ottawa, told the Ottawa Citizen he began to understand his sexuality in 7th grade, but feared that he would have to stop playing football, basketball, softball and hockey if he came out. “I’d started to understand who I was, what it meant,” he recalled. “The worst thing, from my teammates’ perspective, was to be gay.”
Though he came out to his supportive family at age 15, Heggart says an even bigger challenge lay ahead: revealing his sexuality to his teammates. So instead, he opted to document his coming out experience anonymously by posting videos on YouTube, one new clip every day for a year from 2008-2009. Said his mother Julie, who was initially concerned by her son’s decision: “It was a place where he could be himself and share his struggles and his conflicts and everything he was going through with this broader community.”
In the video series, Heggart speaks poignantly about the process, and takes on other topics like religion, same-sex marriage, the so-called “ex-gay” movement and other topics. When he finally did come out to teammates and classmates by posting a photo of himself with his new boyfriend, Brock, on Facebook and changing his relationship status, Heggart says he received “respect and support.” He now says the 2011 suicide of Jamie Hubley, a 15-year-old gay Canadian teen, inspired him to go public about his YouTube identity.
The story has also been picked up by Towleroad, the Montreal Gazette, Accidental Bear, the National Post and other publications.
Check out Heggart’s YouTube page here.