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    Reconciling Being a Jock with Being Gay

    By John Chen–

    During my 25 years of involvement in LGBT sports, I’ve met numerous such athletes who pass the “gaydar” test, but who felt great shame for their sexual desires. Their struggles are predicated by fear: fear of ostracism, fear of being wrong, and worst of all, fear of being hated. Many of them find their way to the gay mecca that is San Francisco seeking first-hand acceptance, tolerance, and sexual freedom.

    Andrew Bord was an all-American jock from rural New York where he lettered in football, basketball, and baseball. Growing up, Bord understood only three things: sports, religion, and family; nothing else at the time really mattered. On the outside, this self-described extraverted introvert was gregarious, handsome, intelligent, and full of promise. But, on the inside, Bord harbored self-loathing and an unspeakable secret.

    “I’ve always had an attraction towards men,” Bord told me for the San Francisco Bay Times. “I didn’t understand it, but thought it was normal until I hit puberty. Being an athlete, I was surrounded by many ‘guys’ guys’ who constantly made homophobic references, such as ‘faggot this and faggot that.’ Although I internalized all the disparaging remarks, [they] really [tore] away at me inside and made me feel more ashamed.”

    Through college, Bord tried to deal with his “eternal demon,” but to no resolution. Bord explained that he always had girlfriends, mainly because it was normal and all of his buddies had one. “I felt I was lying to the girls and to myself, and that wasn’t fair to anyone.” Over the years, he slowly but surely accepted himself, but only internally. Externally, he continued to lead a seemingly perfect, all-American life.

    “At one point, I just told myself I couldn’t do this anymore,” he said. Bord really wanted and needed to explore his sexuality on both the physical and social levels. “I started using a gay dating app and looked for guys into sports and cars just like me, to hopefully perhaps soften the blow. I started living a double life, where I learned to make excuses to my friends and family regarding my whereabout and what I was doing.”

    Hiding his first gay relationship wasn’t easy. That relationship failed because Bord couldn’t be honest with the people he loved. “He didn’t want to hide our relationship,” Bord said of his partner. “He was proud of us and wanted people to know we loved one another. But I wasn’t ready for that and essentially me forcing him to hide our relationship hurt him deeply.” Not long after, Bord told himself, “Enough is enough! I can’t hurt any more people because of my own internal frustrations.”

    Bord officially came out three years ago, first to his best friend from high school, who ironically came out to Bord only a year ago. “My friend was like, ‘what the dude! Why didn’t you tell me then?’ I just wasn’t ready back then.”

    Bord eventually told his family, who took the news surprising well. “I am very lucky to have a supportive family,” he said. “Those who truly love me have accepted me, and that’s all that matters.”

    Although out and seemingly accepted in rural New York, Bord continued to hear voices behind his back. He felt something was missing, an emptiness that’s still difficult to describe. One day, he took a chance and messaged via a dating app a suave and handsome man, Alejandro Nuño, who was 3,000 miles away in San Francisco. The two Facetimed for hours, and then days, until they fell deeply in love on a faithful cold winter’s weekend in New York. Simultaneously, Bord also felt a deep social intrigue toward Nuño’s hometown of San Francisco, a city that he knew had a strong gay culture deeply rooted in history, acceptance, tradition, and activism.

    Against numerous objections, Bord knew that he had to come to San Francisco not just to be with Nuño, but also to be in a city that he feels a deep connection to, a city where he can truly be himself, and where he can grow as a gay man and feel at home. Today Bord lives with Nuño in an apartment with all of San Francisco in plain sight. “I can’t imagine living anywhere else and with anyone else,” he said. “The city has opened my eyes and connected me to the gay culture I’ve been missing.”

    “Andrew is a beautiful bud that is blossoming into an even more beautiful flower,” beamed a proud Nuño with downtown San Francisco in the background.

    John Chen, a UCLA alumnus and an avid sports fan, has competed as well as coached tennis, volleyball, softball and football teams.