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UC Santa Barbara Tennis Coach Simon Thibodeau: 'I'm Gay'

The NYT profiles the coming out of Santa Barbara's women's tennis team, Simon Thibodeau:

Thibodeau“I’m gay,” he finally said.

There was awkward silence, mostly stemming from surprise. One player applauded. The rest smiled, shrugged and wondered about the summer schedule.

“No one thought it was a big deal,” said Erica Cano, captain of last year’s team and now an assistant coach. “All this big buildup, then: ‘Oh. O.K.’ ”

To Thibodeau’s college players, perhaps, it was not a big deal. But to him, it was a life-altering moment after years of inner turmoil. And to those in college coaching and tennis, Thibodeau’s public pronouncement of homosexuality promises to make him an unassuming pioneer.

“It feels so free,” Thibodeau said. “I’m not hiding anymore. If you ask, I’ll tell.”

According to the newspaper there are just a handful of out NCAA Division 1 head coaches - "Portland State women’s basketball coach, Sherri Murrell; the Kennesaw State men’s (and former women’s) tennis coach, T. J. Greggs; and Kirk Walker, the longtime softball coach at Oregon State, now an assistant at U.C.L.A."

It all makes Thibodeau, 40, a successful college coach with deep ties in international tennis, a candidate to become a public spokesman for barrier breaking in sports and a private counselor to those struggling to make sense of their feelings.

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Comments

  1. I like the attitude, no big deal, because it shouldn't be.

    Posted by: Matt27 | Aug 29, 2013 11:27:27 AM


  2. Um, check that first line - you make it sound like the entire women's tennis team came out...The NYT profiles the coming out of Santa Barbara's women's tennis team... which really, would surprise noone... :)

    Posted by: CCGuy | Aug 29, 2013 11:43:26 AM


  3. Congratulations to Mr. Thibodeau!

    BUT, coming out finally at age 40 does not qualify him to act as a "private counselor" to those trying to "make sense" of their feelings. After all, if it took 40 years for Simon to finally be himself, he's not the best counselor for those who are struggling.

    People need to be able to look to role models who have been out, happy, productive, proud and successful living their true lives-all their lives.

    After all, they are the ones who have paved the way and paid the price for all the freedoms we now (and in the future will) enjoy.

    Posted by: jtramon | Aug 29, 2013 12:18:47 PM


  4. @JTRAMON, who says Mr. Thibodeau is not "paving the way" forward for the LGBT community? His age has NOTHING to do with his ability to serve as a role model for our community. Of course Mr. Thibodeau is a role model, for all of us, including college-age young adults in our community.

    Mr. Thibodeau is absolutely qualified to act as a "private counselor" to our younger brothers and sisters. He is a leader in the college athletic community and will serve as an excellent representative for LGBT rights.

    Posted by: Xavi | Aug 29, 2013 1:50:34 PM


  5. @JTRAMON, who says Mr. Thibodeau is not "paving the way" forward for the LGBT community? His age has NOTHING to do with his ability to serve as a role model for our community. Of course Mr. Thibodeau is a role model, for all of us, including college-age young adults in our community.

    Mr. Thibodeau is absolutely qualified to act as a "private counselor" to our younger brothers and sisters. He is a leader in the college athletic community and will serve as an excellent representative for LGBT rights.

    Posted by: Xavi | Aug 29, 2013 1:50:38 PM


  6. This reminds me that quite a few years ago there was a very long thread on an OutSports message board involving a gay college tennis coach and his coming out process. The level of support, interest and thoughtfulness in the hundreds of posts from lots of members was pretty striking, and it was also helpful to me, mired some where in that process too. I've wondered about that coach from time to time and what came to pass. Maybe this is he!

    Posted by: avatar | Aug 29, 2013 3:09:08 PM


  7. I find the "no big deal" attitude extremely insensitive. It means you don't appreciate the intense pressure from family, friends, colleagues, church, etc., to stay in the closet. It means you don't appreciate the daily ordeal it is to bottle up one's deepest feelings, to lie to loved ones, to watch opportunities for love and the joys of life go by while those around you enjoy life to its fullest. It means you don't appreciate the terrifying risk and vulnerability someone feels when coming out and the profound trust they've given you to be one of the first they tell. I once came out to a dear friend who shrugged (and then later forgot!) and it was deeply disappointing. Yes, it _should_ be no big deal, but that's only because society _should_ treat everyone fairly and justly. It doesn't. So when someone comes out, it's likely the biggest deal of their life, and people should bear that in mind before they shrug.

    Posted by: JJ | Aug 29, 2013 3:15:18 PM


  8. Some people just can not be supportive and happy about the progress that's being made.

    SAD !

    When a dear friend shrugs and doesn't throw you a parade, take the hint ! The conflict was inside YOU, and they accepted YOU all along, and probably already knew !

    I understand, really I do, happened to me, I was kind of pissed about it. But I got over it and realized that those friends were freakin' AWESOME.

    As far as people acting as "private counselors" - uhm, come on, leave that to the professionals, mm kaye ?

    Posted by: Jumpin jesus on a pogo stick | Aug 29, 2013 3:37:32 PM


  9. @Jesus, a shrug or a parade are not the only two choices; awesome friends can still do insensitive things while remaining awesome friends; and, pointing out insensitivity and disappointment doesn't negate being supportive and happy about progress. You're whole outlook seems to be made of false dichotomies.

    Posted by: JJ | Aug 29, 2013 4:47:34 PM


  10. way to go simon

    Posted by: Rees Cramer | Sep 13, 2013 9:32:00 AM


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