Taylor Summers competes on the Track and Field Team at Amherst College, and felt a great deal of support from her teammates when she made the choice to come out to them as a member of the LGBT community. A member of the class of 2016, Summers will begin a year at Dartmouth this coming fall as part of an exchange program, and hopes to continue advocating for LGBT inclusion in sports. Learn more about Taylor, below.
When I entered college as a freshman I had no idea how I was going to come out to my new friends or especially to my new teammates. I had only ever come out to people who had known me my whole life. The thought of having to share such a personal and potentially controversial part of myself to practically strangers was terrifying. Yet despite all of my worrying, coming out to the Amherst College Women’s Track and Field Team was more than amazing. Everyone on the team was less concerned with my sexual orientation than they were with the fact that my date to our formal was a girl. It is support like this within a team that makes every individual better.
The goal of Athlete Ally is to make sports inclusive for everyone. But this mission affects so much more than just sports. We represent our team, our program and our school; how we act and perform on and off the field reflects on our community as a whole. It is important for us athletes to take a stand against homophobia and transphobia because once we make that pledge, we will make enormous changes on all of our respective campuses.
It is important to have inclusive and supportive teams and teammates because no one can perform their best if they don’t feel supported or accepted. The most successful teams I have been a part of are those that have fostered a welcoming and accepting community. We don’t win as individuals. We practice as a team, we play as a team, and we win as a team. Even in an individual sport like track where we all compete and set personal and school records individually, we still need our teammates. I am the athlete I am because of the support my teammates have shown me, how hard they have pushed me in practice and how loud they have cheered for me at the finish line. We all need those types of teammates, and we all deserve them. You could win every event as an individual but without those teammates holding out a water bottle when you finish the race, without them standing on your blocks and wishing you luck before the gun goes off, without them picking you up when things don’t turn out how you hoped, your individual accomplishments will only take you so far