What's on your mind?

I’m really struggling with a lot right now, coming out to my friends and some of my family but I’m terrified to come out to anyone in my sport. Playing tennis, basically everyone I’ve met is violently homophobic and genuinely wants queer people to not exist and I’m terrified. I know I'm going to lose all of my tennis friends and be isolated if I come out but if I keep hiding who I am my mental health keeps getting worse. I want to go pro but I can’t come out and because I can’t come out my mental health gets bad again and it makes my performance worse and it’s like a repeating cycle and I’m so lost I have no idea what to do. Tennis is my entire life but at the same time it feels like I picked the wrong sport because I have never met a single openly queer person and I feel so so alone. Any advice?

Emma Gee & Nikki Hiltz
She/Her & They/Them
Track & Field

I’m sorry you’re in this situation. Growing up Mormon and competing for BYU, I was surrounded by a homophobic community with no queer representation. Here’s how I handled it:

First, I focused on my relationship with myself. I reminded myself, “I’m queer, a good person, and deserve to belong.” This self-belief took time to build. Second, I believed coming out could change hearts and minds in my community. Many people did challenge their biases for me, though some remained homophobic. Third, I recognized the challenges and prepared myself to face them, thinking about how to share my identity and respond to reactions.

Coming out was hard but essential for my mental health. It strengthened my self-belief, and proved I belong in my chosen communities. Now, I compete with more confidence and feel better than ever.

Together, always,
Emma Gee & Nikki Hiltz
Emma Gee & Nikki Hiltz
She/Her & They/Them

Emma Gee is a queer professional track athlete specializing in the 3000 meter steeplechase & currently training for the 2024 Track & Field Olympic Trials. She was the first LGBTQ+ athlete to come out publicly at BYU and actively works to challenge anti-queer policies at religious institutions through her Queer Athlete Podcast and as co-race director of the Pride 5K.

Nikki Hiltz is a trans nonbinary professional track athlete, and is the first openly non-binary runner to win a USA Track and Field championship title. The middle-distance specialist is a 4 time USATF National Champion, a seven-time NCAA All-American, World Championship finalist, Pan American Games gold medalist, World Indoor Silver Medalist and American Record Holder.