New York | Sports

New York High School Basketball Coach Anthony Nicodemo Comes Out To Team

Saunders High School boys basketball coach Anthony Nicodemo recently came out to his school team — including a few parents, past captains and the school principal — making him quite possibly the only publicly out boys high school basketball coach in the tri-state area.

Fear of parental backlash and being labelled a pedophile kept him from coming out since joining the team in 2009. But he had long read the LGBT sports blog Outsports and looked into the Equality Coaching Alliance before making the decision to join other LGBT players, coaches and advocates at Nike's LGBT Sports Summit two weeks ago.

Then on Monday, he came out: Nicodemo

He called the team together with a couple parents, past captains and the school principal. He admitted to them that, despite preaching the importance of honesty, he had not been forthright with them.

He told them their basketball coach is gay.

The reaction was like that experienced by every gay male athlete and coach we know to have come out to his team in the last 15 years: They literally embraced him.

"It was humbling," he said. "Very quickly the kids started to speak. A couple of the kids said, 'Who cares? Coach has done more for us in our lives than anyone else. We love him and we've got to focus on our goals.'"

Cyd Zeigler's entire profile on Nicodemo is well worth reading, especially to learn how he transformed Saunder's mostly losing team of 'street ballers' into a cohesive, winning group.

But most interesting is the effect that Nicodemo's coming out might have on the local sports culture overall:

Nicodemo is no wallflower. With his bigger-than-life personality, the coach shatters stereotypes that still fuel "faggot" and "sissy" comments in the locker room and on the court. He's ready to challenge the long-held beliefs in sports about what a gay man is and what he can accomplish. While headlines of Jason Collins and Robbie Rogers have flooded the New York area for months, a real-life fixture of the local high school sports world has emerged amongst the masses; His potential impact could be game-changing.

He also may bring some institutional change. It's been hard for LGBT advocates to institute sensitivity training for high school coaches and administrators due to various elements from interest in the topic to financial resources. Nicodemo will explore bringing that kind of training to the counties of Westchester, Rockland, Putnam and others in the area just north of New York City in the coming year.

Out athletes and LGBT advocates have really challenged homophobia in sports over the last two years. In addition to Collins and Rogers coming out, three pro-LGBT sports organizations have recently come into prominence and a few high school and college coaches have begun being called out for homophobic behavior.

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  1. Congratulation to Anthony and gigantic hugs to the team and everyone there who gave him love and support. You guyz rock and the world is a little better place today because of you.

    Posted by: JONES | Jun 25, 2013 9:37:16 PM

  2. This REALLY made my day!!! Since SCOTUS wasn't forthcoming today...this was great news, indeed! Yay!!! What a moving response from the team, too.

    Posted by: Geoff | Jun 25, 2013 9:44:18 PM

  3. Crying here. Seriously made me so emotional as a long time basketball player who has been discriminated all my life in my small town for my sexuality

    Posted by: Leo | Jun 25, 2013 10:16:52 PM

  4. Absolutely one of the most inspiring stories of the entire week!

    Posted by: USC Trojans Fan | Jun 25, 2013 10:17:15 PM

  5. "Nicodemo is no wallflower. With his bigger-than-life personality, the coach shatters stereotypes that still fuel "faggot" and "sissy" comments in the locker room and on the court. He's ready to challenge the long-held beliefs in sports about what a gay man is and what he can accomplish"

    And so we see again that the real issue for most straight men with "gays" now is not homosexuality, per se, but effeminacy and being a "sissy". As it should be.

    They are ready to make sexuality a non-issue for men who measure up to masculine standards and embrace them, but not those who eschew and revile masculinity and imitate and idolize femininity, instead.

    That said, this is a tricky situation, for the reasons the coach gave for not coming out in the past. It is tricky for a gay man to be in the locker room with a bunch of naked teenage boys, in the same way that it would be tricky for a straight male coach to be in the locker room with a bunch of naked teenage girls (which of course, is not allowed by any school--male coaches of girls teams are not allowed to be in areas where their players are naked).

    I hope he is successful at navigating it, because one slip will prove disastrous.

    I know that I would find it nearly impossible to avoid glimpsing at those ripening young bodies if I were in a room with them, so to be on the safe side, it would make sense for him to isolate himself from the locker room when his players are changing clothes and showering.....but then again, if he did that, he would almost be admitting that he is sexually attracted to them.

    Quite the Catch-22.

    Posted by: Rick | Jun 25, 2013 10:17:20 PM

  6. With each passing day, we have another amazing pioneer to welcome in our LGBT family and have them call humanity home. I'm proud and so happy for this man to life his most authentic life.

    Posted by: LoveNow | Jun 25, 2013 10:17:56 PM

  7. This really was beautiful. I celebrate everytime someone has the opportunity and knows they can come out, and has support and love. It's a beautiful thing.

    Posted by: Junior | Jun 25, 2013 10:18:37 PM

  8. What a great coach and what an outstanding team! These terrific kids are the future -- and it's obviously going to be a bright one.

    Posted by: kit | Jun 25, 2013 10:20:51 PM

  9. Outstanding. Congratulations Coach Nicodemo.

    Posted by: andrew | Jun 25, 2013 11:17:19 PM

  10. 6.26 is going to again be a historic day for the LGBT community.

    Regardless of what happens tomorrow I want to mark it as a national day of gay celebration. For all we've gained. For the fight yet to come. For Robbie & Jason & Coach Nicodemo. National Gay Day. In Pride month.

    Maybe National Coming Out Day. If you're in a safe situation.
    National my best friend is gay and I love him/her day.
    National my teenage son is gay and he's still perfect day.

    National everyone deserves equality day.

    It's been a long wait.

    Posted by: JONES | Jun 26, 2013 12:15:40 AM

  11. Gosh. Stories about gay guys who don't look gay, and coach sports is the direction we want to proceed. This should make us give pause to also highlight the really fem, fey, queeny, pansy gay guys who excell at their jobs too! Real Queerdom was built on these unsung heros!

    Posted by: 26 | Jun 26, 2013 12:30:48 AM

  12. ...and he has access to the locker room with all those young boys showering and changing. Interesting.

    Posted by: LDC | Jun 26, 2013 3:19:17 AM

  13. The Living Room Mysteries (
    “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.” “femme”

    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 an absolution regarding the wholeness 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.

    Posted by: I'm Layla Miller I Know Stuff | Jun 26, 2013 4:05:22 AM

  14. He protects himself from it through the elaborate codifications of the bonding rituals he permits himself to enter. He creates very sturdy line of communication that on a daily basis keep him upright and secure.

    He rues the day when by accident the falls through the safety net of approved language, gesture. This kind of guy is notorious for his fear of scenes, by which he means emotions, and will keep moving to avoid them.

    The blue man’s doggedness, his determination to push through, to master the situation can be used in the service of relationships. Fraternity Brothers can be remarkably stubborn where their hearts are engaged. Getting them to such a deep connection is not easy, but once there, the Fraternity Brother is faithfully committed.

    The Fraternity Brother retains his boyishness, his slightly spoiled charm. There’s often something well bred, well connected, outgoing, movie star-leading man quality about this type, even when he comes from a humble background.

    His health, vigor, physical beauty, upbeat, extraverted, jocky gregariousness seems to win from an unceasing admiration akin to doting parents.

    Posted by: I'm Layla Miller I Know Stuff | Jun 26, 2013 4:12:39 AM

  15. Sorry, to me it seems like a strange thing to do to hold a team meeting to 'come out' as homosexual. Whatever.

    Posted by: ratbastard | Jun 26, 2013 9:39:07 AM

  16. @Ratbastard

    Yes, coming out, being open and honest would be strange to you.

    Posted by: Not that Rob | Jun 26, 2013 9:54:33 AM

  17. @Not that Rob,

    No, it's not, my friend. What I find strange is believing my sexual orientation has anything to do with the baseball team I coach.

    Posted by: ratbastard | Jun 26, 2013 11:54:09 AM

  18. that's ok, bastard. all closet cases pretend that they believe that. but the world is being made a better place by progressive liberal types, so one day you'll be able to do it. keep your chin up! happy pride!

    Posted by: Little Kiwi | Jun 26, 2013 11:57:49 AM

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