Coming Out Stories: Former NCAA Basketball Player Will Sheridan (Video)
Continuing our series of articles showcasing Coming Out Stories, we give you former athlete Will Sheridan. Around this time last year, Sheridan appeared on ESPN where he detailed the process of not only coming out to his unsuspecting parents, but also coming out to his Villanova University basketball teammates in Pennsylvania.
By then the ’07 college graduate was “kinda over it.” The 6′ 8″ tall Delaware native had already told all of the people that mattered in his life and just wanted to help others and maybe have them learn from his experiences.
In the interview (embedded below), Sheridan recalls those first awkward moments in telling his freshman year roommate/teammate Mike Nardi, whom he had already known for some time.
“I just said, ‘I need to tell you something … I’m gay,'” Sheridan said.
“I just said, ‘Don’t go putting a hit on me or sniffing my underwear or nothing,'” Nardi said. “I mean I was surprised because it was new to me. I had never really experienced anything like that, but it’s not like it mattered. I don’t know. I mean, we were friends. Who cares?”
Unlike me, Will was brave enough to live with an “open secret” throughout his college years. He dated men, went to clubs, was in a relationship and played basketball. Lived a double life. Certain people knew, most people didn’t.
He was discreet.
So it turns out that Sheridan’s case was probably like many of us out there: Many people already suspected. The extremely detailed article about him on ESPN reports that in college Will was the artistic spoken-word type who “ran funny” (primarily on his tiptoes). This raised a few red flags. Most telling of all, when you see him in interviews, its clear that he’s not the most masculine guy you would have met on the team. However, to those not in the know, he managed to hold it together enough to remain ambiguous. Like his coach, Jay Wright.
“After I found out, I was like, ‘Did you know?’ And all the guys, they were like, ‘Yeah, Coach, we knew,'” Wright said. “They just didn’t care and I guess I was just oblivious.”
But in hindsight, I can see how his size, stature, athleticism, facial hair, good looks and demeanor could easily have made a person think twice. However that didn’t stop the rumor mill from working overtime, especially with the fans.
“I remember at some games, especially Saint Joe’s games, they were unreal,” said Sheridan, recalling taunts about specific homosexual acts.
“At first, I was like, ‘My grandma is sitting right there,'” Sheridan said. “And as a human being you feel it when people say nasty things. But then I thought, ‘That’s just stupid. If you were gay, you’d like to do [those things], too.”
While things were tough on the courts, telling his parents wasn’t any easier. He told his father first. Afterward, they didn’t speak for a year.
“I come from a background of all solid men,” Will Sheridan Sr. said. “I’m a retired police officer. You have to understand, I didn’t grow up around people like that. I didn’t see them, didn’t know them. Even as a police officer, I didn’t have that much exposure. I just couldn’t do it. I couldn’t do it for almost a year.”
Then came his mother, Josie Sheridan, who he calls his best friend. She took the news hard as well:
“Devastated. I was devastated,” she said. “I mean, I was disappointed. Not in him, but in things that were taken away — not having a daughter-in-law, grandchildren, things like that.”
They’ve since accepted their son and he’s digested things from their viewpoint as well.
“I don’t care how open-minded you say you are, as a parent you project so much on your kids without even realizing it,” Sheridan said. “You want them to be the best at everything, and you have dreams of what your life will be and their life will be. To them, this was just no way. Denial. It didn’t fit with who I was, or who they thought I was. I was perfect. This didn’t work.”
Last weekend, Sheridan released a new music video for a song called “G.I.A.N.T” and it appears that both his mother and father make an appearance. Time really does heal all wounds.
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