MIT Baseball Captain Comes Out To His Team

Out Boston Herald writer Steve Buckley profiles Massachusetts Institute of Technology junior Sean Karson, the gay co-captain of the school's baseball team. Last week, Karson came out to his teammates in a moving speech. The ballplayer has received immense support from them since.

The Herald piece chronicles the leadup to his big revelation:

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A couple of days ago, during an indoor practice at MIT, Karson asked coach Andy Barlow if he could say a few words to his teammates.

“I had no idea what he had in mind,” Barlow said. “He had just returned from a conference in California, so I assumed he was going to talk about his company.”

Instead, Karson took a deep breath, and told his coaches and teammates that he’s gay.

“They came up and gave me high fives and said they’d have my back and everything,” he said. “It was so supportive, it was ridiculous.”

Karson did notice a couple of teammates held back, but got emails from them afterward saying "how much they respected me, but that they needed to collect their thoughts first."

So deeply emotional was Karson’s decision to come out that later that night, during an interview at his MIT dorm, he was still welling up with tears.

“I barely held it together,” he said. “I was probably not the most coherent person when I was giving that speech, but that was the third time I cried in the past week. And this is the fourth, I guess.”

Karson, who reveals on his own site that he's know he was gay since the age of 13, says that "I have never been myself up until very recently." 

Comments

  1. ratbastard says

    I’m at MIT and the Kendall Sq. area at least 5 days a week. Sometimes it’s like I’m in a sea of people, many with varying levels of Autism. Yes, I am dead serious. Now that I got that off my chest, maybe I’ve crossed paths with Mr. Karson. I’m happy for you that things went so well.

  2. Henry Holland says

    Good for him. I think someone who is an active player in the major leagues will come out while playing, probably someone in his early 20’s. Please let it be Mark Trumbo of the Angels, please please please! [Note: no idea if Trumbo is gay, he’s just a lust object]

  3. KT says

    I love how these college kids have so much more courage than these big, bad major leaguers. That is why I think the first openly gay player will be out from his first day player. It seems so much more likely than an active player coming out.

  4. Henry Holland says

    For those asking why this guy can come out but not a major leaguer: get real.

    In sports terms, MIT is nothing, it’s the sports equivalent of doing community theater with grandmas in Keokuk v. appearing at the Royal Shakespeare Company in Statford and playing King Lear.

    Secondly, while college sports is utterly corrupt and awash in funny money, that money doesn’t trickle down much to baseball. Nice as it is that he came out, he wasn’t going to lose a big fat paycheck if the team bounced him, face 40,000 hostile fans, be scrutinized by the media etc. He doesn’t seem to have what it takes to make the major leagues and he’s already setting up his post-college life as a businessman.

    Again, good for him but get real here.

  5. says

    wonderful and encouraging news. may this inspire more grown adults in north america to finally stand up to be counted and join him in Coming Out.

    we could effectively nip closet culture in the bud if all just trusted each other and came out together.

  6. macguffin54 says

    What’s the story behind the acrimony between him and Outsports, to whom he offered an exclusive story and who rejected the story and said things that apparently left him in tears? Hmm…

  7. Nat says

    “Henry Holland has made no “Points” whatsoever. Only a hysterical closet queen like yourself would find validation in him ”

    … says the man who typically never wastes a moment to denigrate sports or athletes.

    Holland might not have put it nicely, but some perspective is important, particularly for anyone thinking that Karson might have a shot at the Majors.

  8. Jake says

    I don’t see anything nerdy about this dude. He is smart, but that is not the same as being a nerd. Also, nerds tend not to be found on team sports, let alone as leaders of their teams. I think he is awesome.

    Added bonus: The guy knows who he is. He doesn’t come out as “queer” or as “LGBT” or “LGBTQIAAP”. He isn’t queer and he isn’t a letter in a bizarre alphabet soup filled with heteroexual fetishists. He is gay. He is a man. And that is what he told his teammates. And that, IMO, makes him awesome.

  9. Bollux says

    I don’t know. The more I look into this kid the more it seems he has some Daddy and maturity issues. Specifically his website geared towards trashing fathers with petty and spiteful anecdotes.

    Yeah we get it: many of us had a crappy parent or two. But don’t take to the internet with those gripes. Confront them face-to-face in private or just ignore them.

  10. I'm Layla Miller I Know Stuff says

    The Living Room Mysteries (Amazon.com)
    “Coming-Out” Narrative Archetype

    As a genre, the coming- out narrative archetype provides a classic forum for the debate of Masculine and Feminine Values. Coming-out storyline is about survival, making good on potential, as much as personal enlightenment and wholeness with the self.

    In the story the Masculine Gay Man sifts through his cultures’ definition of what makes a man a masculine, and what makes a man a “queer,””faggot” “fairy.”

    Deeply affected and inspired by his Feminine Gay Lover, the Masculine Gay Man invariably ends up rebelliously fighting against the abusive attitudes of Anti-Femininity. All this arrives towards a healthy union of masculine and feminine values.

    In this narrative archetype, Feminine and Masculine heroes do approach the status of comrades-in-arms. At the same time, they are both initiator and initiated in terms of merging within their union.

  11. Ryan says

    But why did he have to make such a production out of it? I’ll never understand why some gay guys decide to make coming out in to a big ordeal, gathering everyone together to make a big announcement. It’s like making a big deal out of being white or brown-eyed.

  12. Henry Holland says

    Well, that made my day, being insulted by that stuck in 1975 dinosaur Ehrenstein. Still obsessed by Dharun Ravi, you hack?

    Re: Outsports. Yeah, I’d like to know what happened there.

    Again, MIT could be beaten by some of the better high school teams here in Southern California, they are in a conference of ten teams in the Northeast but only 7 play men’s sports; they’re a Division III team that is one step above club teams at universities. For him to claim that we’ll be hearing about MIT’s baseball team in the future is laughable.

    I get the feeling he’s using his baseball coming out story to hype his websites.

  13. Tim says

    Sean, if you have come here and are reading some of these bizarre negative comments, please understand that Towleroad has perhaps the most deranged, unhinged, ill-informed, and antisocial commenters of any gay blog. It really is notorious. So don’t take any of it personally.

    Ignore the nutters and please accept our congratulations on coming out to the team and best wishes for a great future. Gays and lesbian youth need to see more examples of smart, competitive and positive people like yourself.

  14. Bill says

    @Henry Holland: Unlike some other places that treat an athletic program as a fund-raising activity where the “students” participating in some teams (e.g., football) are there more as professional athletes than students, MIT has always treated sports as something provided for the benefit of its students, whose primary interest is science and engineering (and of course mathematics).

    Students on a baseball/whatever team at MIT may want to do well at it and may be enthusiastic, but it is not the primary reason they are there.

  15. Stefan says

    @Henry Holland: Everyone faces risks when coming out. I’d guess that for most people money is less a concern than loss of friendship, peer validation, public support, etc. What makes someone a man–like this guy–is the realization that living an honest life is infinitely more important than any of the negatives of coming out. Let’s not underestimate it.

  16. BigGuy says

    Most of MIT’s teams — other than basketball & football — are ranked among the top 100 in the country. They do well in water sports.

    02/04/2013 MIT Sports-Shorts
    National Rankings
    #1 – Women’s Cross Country
    #1 – Men’s Swimming and Diving
    #5 – Women’s Swimming and Diving
    #5 – Water Polo
    #9 – Women’s Sailing
    #11 – Co-ed Sailing
    #12 – Women’s Indoor Track & Field
    #13 – Men’s Volleyball
    #14 – Men’s Indoor Track & Field
    #15 – Women’s Soccer
    #18 – Field Hockey
    #21 – Women’s Tennis

  17. Timothy Nichols says

    I think Baseball Is a great game. Most or sport if they found out if they had a plyer that was gay they would had them kicked of the team. I see they did not kick you off the team. Your teammates suported you. The older generation thinks in side the box the yunger genutation thinks out side the box.
    I am glade you come out it will make you fill better about yourself.Being gay will get better over time. There are still people out there that races people out in the world so be carefull out there.

  18. Rick says

    @BIGGUY I have no idea where you got those rankings, but they are laughable. Perhaps in the NCAA division MIT competes in (which is doubtless the lowest classification) they are ranked that high, but swimming? LOL. Track and field? LOL.

    Henry Holland’s post was dead-on and anyone living in the real world understands it. As long as there is a stigma attached to “gay” (i.e. as long as “gay” equates to effeminacy and a lack of masculinity in the popular mind–in other words, as long as the culture of effeminacy persists), then few, if any, big-time athletes will ever come out, because they have no desire to embrace or associate with such a culture or mindset.

  19. Concern says

    Ummmm… Anyone else concerned this kid has posted on here, his site and twitter that he’s being involuntarily committed to a psychiatric hospital. Sean if you are still on here please explain. Youve got lots of support. If anyone else has contact with him please make sure support is there.

  20. says

    as long as cowardly adults refuse to come out and blame “effeminate guys” for it, those cowards can forget calling themselves “manly”, or “masculine”, or even MEN.

    you’re a bunch of wimpy little boys with no balls to speak of.

  21. Lucas says

    @Rick: Those are Division III rankings.

    In other words, MIT has a perfectly reasonable sports program for a Division III school. Are they the University of Alabama? No. Are they a bunch of hard-working guys and gals who are pretty good at what they do? Absolutely. (Compare, for instance, to Caltech, which has an abysmal athletic program.)

    I speak this as a former member, and current assistant coach, of a sports team at MIT. At one point during my career, our squad was ranked in the top 15 in the country (that was Division I; MIT has one Division I team: rowing).

    I wish Sean the best. I was openly gay throughout my tenure at MIT and never experienced a single issue. MIT students tend to be highly tolerant and accepting, given that many of them were somewhat outcast themselves in high school. But there are openly gay collegiate athletes *everywhere.* It’s only a matter of time before one of these athletes makes it to the pros.

  22. Diogenes Arktos says

    I tried to read Karson’s webpage and gave up. I found it unreadable in many ways. I suspect the problem with Outsports was that Karson was not used to being told “no”.

    In spite of the above, congratulations!

  23. oliver says

    Good for him! Probably not at all easy – lots of self-inflicted needless fear involved in that decision. It probably helps that he is surrounded by highly intelligent people.

  24. ratbastard says

    @Oliver,

    Spending a good portion of my life surrounded by ‘highly intelligent people’ like those at MIT, I can confidently inform you many of these ‘highly intelligent people’ are also certifiable. There does seem to be a fine line between ‘highly intelligent people’ and mental illness.

  25. Dr. Tyler says

    This man is a role model to so many other students who are still in fear of ridicule and family hostility but he is a terrific role model. America needs so many today. Hopefully he is the start of of other players society looks up to without fear or loathing. The world needs more of these gutsy guys & gals too. Kudos!
    Remember, IT GETS BETTER.

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