“It was something I thought I'd never do -- dance a slow dance with the homecoming king at his high school.”
But that’s exactly what one gay high school student, a star athlete who’d been petrified of admitting his sexuality publicly, did earlier this year, courageously coming out to the world with a simple, but powerful slow dance.
Michael Martin, an 18-year-old senior at Musselman High School in Inwood, West Virginia, shared his inspiring coming out story on Out Sports earlier this week. In his post, he explained how he’d been “scared of being mocked” by his teammates and classmates, so he’d long kept his sexuality a secret.
Martin is a top athlete at his school. He’s an all-state soccer goalie, and he’s been on the school’s football, tennis and swim teams. His teammates always talked about their girlfriends, he said, and some “threw around the words ‘gay’ and ‘faggot’ a lot.” He felt he “would never be safe” if he came out.
But everything changed in Martin’s junior year when he decided to tell his best friend, a fellow member of the soccer team, that he was gay. The friend was unfazed by the news and told Martin that “there is nothing that can change our friendship.”
Bolstered by this chat and also inspired by the coming out story of Robbie Rogers, a soccer player on the Los Angeles Galaxy, Martin decided to come out publicly.
So, earlier this year, Martin danced his first dance with a boy, the homecoming king at another high school (and his future boyfriend).
“There we were ... on an October night this fall, slow dancing with each other. We attend schools in different counties and met through friends and I was thrilled that he asked me to his dance so we could be together. He was wearing his gray vest and pink bow tie while I had on my black shirt with a gold tie,” Martin said of the unforgettable moment. “We danced to ‘Love Story’ by Taylor Swift, which was a perfect song for my first dance with a guy.”
This week, the teen's moving story has gone viral, as netizens everywhere praise him for his courage. Friends of the young man have also stepped forward to offer words of encouragement and praise on social media.
Martin says he’s been blown away by the response.
"I would have never have thought that my story would reach so many people," he wrote on Instagram this week.
Ultimately, though his coming out experience was challenging, Martin says he feels revitalized by the experience and is excited for the road ahead.
“As I am graduating next spring, I have been talking to several college coaches about playing soccer at their schools. That will be a whole new level, a whole new school, group of friends, and new teammates. But I won't be afraid of being myself since I am proud to play as an athlete who happens to be gay,” he wrote in his post.