Connect with us

Miscellaneous

‘It’s easy to be gay as an athlete at GW’

Swimmer from Midwest finds support after coming out to teammates

Published

on

Liam Huffman, gay news, Washington Blade
Liam Huffman, gay news, Washington Blade

‘I wanted to be somewhere I’d feel comfortable and feel safe,’ said Liam Huffman about moving to D.C. to attend George Washington University. (Photo courtesy GW Athletics)

Liam Huffman says his favorite restaurant in Washington, D.C., is Nando’s Peri-Peri.

He always orders the plain grilled chicken breast, hot, with sides of french fries and corn.

In late August 2013, the George Washington University swimming team chose Nando’s for a team dinner. Huffman, a freshman last season, stepped away from his chicken, fries and corn to refill his drink downstairs.

He returned, and his teammates suddenly stopped talking.

Huffman looked around, sat down and said, “What are we talking about?”

“Dragon Ball Z,” someone said invoking the 1990s Japanese anime series to break the nervous tension.

Adam Rabe, an upperclassman on the team, decided to be straight with Huffman. He said, “Dude, we are just asking Matt how comfortable you were with gay jokes and stuff like that.”

Huffman had told some teammates that he is gay, including his roommate Matt McPherson. But Rabe’s statement informed Huffman that his sexuality was now common knowledge.

Twelve months earlier, it would have horrified Huffman for anyone to know he is gay. He only started telling his family and friends in January 2013.

But now it was a relief that his George Washington teammates knew.

“They were giving me a chance to set the boundaries and, basically, the precedent on how they handled it and addressed it,” Huffman said. “I thought it was a fair conversation for them to be having, because as far as I know, I’m the only out gay swimmer that GW has seen either in a really long time or ever.”

The 2013-14 season marked the 16th season for Dan Rhinehart as George Washington head swimming coach, and Rhinehart said Huffman is the first gay athlete he is aware of coaching.

“It isn’t anything that I even give any consideration to,” Rhinehart said of Huffman’s sexual orientation.

Huffman said picking an accepting college campus was a priority when deciding where to continue his swimming career. He expected being gay would be easier in the nation’s capital than in his suburban Kansas City hometown of Riverside, Mo. It took some time to find out for sure.

“That was a really crucial thing for me,” Huffman said. “I wanted to be somewhere I’d feel comfortable and feel safe. I knew that in D.C. that I definitely would, but GW for sure would be a very safe community to be gay.”

Huffman is pursuing a degree in economics with minors in political science and sustainability. He lived his freshman year in Thurston Hall with McPherson and two non-swimmers. Huffman told McPherson he’s gay before any of his other teammates.

“He was very comfortable with it,” Huffman said. “He wasn’t offended or bothered.”

Huffman never told his male teammates from his Kansas City club swimming team about his sexual orientation, so McPherson served as a barometer for Huffman being an out athlete.

“It was a good indicator to me that it’d be OK to officially come out to the team,” Huffman said. “I didn’t do a formal coming out when I did. I told a couple people and just kind of let it go how it did.

“I figured that if the guys on the team didn’t already know, they would find out soon enough. I’m very open about it. And Matt’s reaction definitely said that I could be open about it.”

Since sixth grade, Huffman said he was perceived to be gay by classmates. He tried to change the way he talked in junior high to mimic the football players. He tried to slow his speech and use fewer big words.

“I wanted to fit the standard of what a middle school boy, in my mind, was supposed to be,” Huffman said.

He said he did not start to grapple with his sexual orientation until he entered his senior year of high school. But in recent years, he says, he recognizes that he fits some gay stereotypes.

“I often fall victim to the T-Rex arms. They’re always up,” Huffman says. “I have a bit of a sway to my walk. My voice — the way I linger on certain words, the place that I put the accent — is all very typical gay stereotype.”

He once tried to suppress those behaviors. But he had three relationships that allowed him to grow and accept himself during his senior year of high school.

The first was exclusively online, and it helped Huffman confirm he is gay.

The second was with a student named Nick from a rival high school. Nick took him on his first date to California Pizza Kitchen on Jan. 3, 2013, and Huffman went home from that date and came out to his parents, Archie and Margaret — who were instantly accepting and anxious to meet the guy. Nick was Huffman’s first boyfriend, and they dated for about two months.

Huffman’s third relationship came that summer, and he was the first boyfriend to meet all of Huffman’s friends — that relationship stopped when Huffman left for school.

Those relationships prepared Huffman to live openly and let his George Washington teammates know he is gay when he arrived at school in August.

“I wasn’t sure how they would take it,” Huffman said.

But as he learned that night at Nando’s, he had nothing to worry about.

“He fit in perfectly right off the bat,” said Ryan O’Malley, a member of the George Washington swim team and Huffman’s roommate next year. “Everybody gets along with him, and everyone really enjoys having him at practice and having him around when we all hangout.”

Huffman swam well this season. He finished the season by scoring points in four events at the 2014 Atlantic 10 Conference meet led by a third-place finish in the 500-yard freestyle.

By the end of the season, Huffman felt no hesitation discussing in the locker room the guys he was seeing. He even attempted to explain the gay app Grindr.

Explaining Grindr turned into a bonding moment as Huffman described Grindr’s “tribes.” Suddenly, each guy on the team wanted to know where he fit.

“There are a lot, a lot of otters,” Huffman said. “We have a fairly hairy team.”

Until they shave for meets, he says: “In season, then we start turning into a more twink, jock team.”

His George Washington teammates and coaches showed Huffman the acceptance he desired moving from the Midwest to the East Coast.

“Everyone on the team has gay friends besides me,” Huffman says. “They’re all used to it, I guess, and so it’s really easy to be gay as an athlete at GW.”

Liam Huffman, gay news, Washington Blade

Liam Huffman swam well this season, scoring points in four events at the 2014 Atlantic 10 Conference meet. (Photo courtesy GW Athletics)

Advertisement
FUND LGBTQ JOURNALISM
SIGN UP FOR E-BLAST

Celebrity News

Anne Heche dies after removal from life support

Actress dated Ellen DeGeneres in late 1990s

Published

on

(Screenshot/YouTube Inside Edition)

Actress Anne Heche died after she was removed from life support on Sunday, nearly two weeks after her Mini-Cooper crashed through a two-story house in Los Angeles’ Mar Vista neighborhood. Investigators with the Los Angeles Police Department believe she was intoxicated at the time.

She sustained a severe anoxic brain injury along with severe burns and was being treated at the Grossman Burn Center at West Hills Hospital, near Chatsworth in the San Fernando Valley.

The 53-year-old actress who was a star of films like “Donnie Brasco,” the political satire “Wag the Dog” and the 1998 remake of “Psycho,” had been declared legally dead under California law on Friday, however, her family kept her alive long enough to be an organ donor.

In a statement Friday, the LAPD announced that: “As of today, there will be no further investigative efforts made in this case. Any information or records that have been requested prior to this turn of events will still be collected as they arrive as a matter of formalities and included in the overall case. When a person suspected of a crime expires, we do not present for filing consideration.” LAPD detectives had previously made public that investigators into the crash found narcotics in a blood sample taken from Heche.

The actress’s family released a statement on Friday:

“Today we lost a bright light, a kind and most joyful soul, a loving mother, and a loyal friend. Anne will be deeply missed but she lives on through her beautiful sons, her iconic body of work, and her passionate advocacy. Her bravery for always standing in her truth, spreading her message of love and acceptance, will continue to have a lasting impact,” the statement added.

Heche was married to camera operator Coleman Laffoon from 2001 to 2009. The two had a son, Homer, together. She had another son, named Atlas, during a relationship with actor James Tupper, her co-star on the TV series “Men In Trees.”

Laffoon left a moving tribute on an Instagram reel in which he also gave an update on how their 20-year-old son Homer Laffoon is coping with the loss of his mother.

“I loved her and I miss her, and I’m always going to,” he said adding: “Homer is okay. He’s grieving, of course, and it’s rough. It’s really rough, as probably anybody can imagine. But he’s surrounded by family and he’s strong, and he’s gonna be okay.”

“Rest In Peace, Mom, I love you, Homer,” the actor’s 20-year-old son, Homer, said in a statement after Heche was declared legally dead on Friday.“ My brother Atlas and I lost our Mom,” read the statement. “After six days of almost unbelievable emotional swings, I am left with a deep, wordless sadness. Hopefully, my mom is free from pain and beginning to explore what I like to imagine as her eternal freedom. Over those six days, thousands of friends, family, and fans made their hearts known to me. I am grateful for their love, as I am for the support of my Dad, Coley, and my stepmom Alexi who continue to be my rock during this time. Rest In Peace Mom, I love you, Homer.”

Tupper, a Canadian actor who starred alongside Heche in “Men in Trees,” had a 13-year-old son, Atlas, with her. “Love you forever,” Tupper, 57, wrote on his Instagram post’s caption with a broken heart emoji, which shared an image of the actress from Men in Trees.

Between 1997 and 2000, Heche was also in a relationship with talk show host Ellen DeGeneres.

“This is a sad day,” DeGeneres posted on Twitter. “I’m sending Anne’s children, family and friends all of my love.” The year after her break-up with the comedian, in September 2001, Heche recounted in her memoir “Call Me Crazy,” about her lifelong struggles with mental health and a childhood of abuse.

KTLA’s entertainment reporter Sam Rubin noted that over the past two decades, Heche’s career pivoted several times. In 2017, she hosted a weekly radio show on SiriusXM with Jason Ellis called “Love and Heche.”

In 2020, Heche made her way into the podcast world. She launched “Better Together” which she cohosted alongside Heather Duffy Boylston. The show was described as a way to celebrate friendship. 

She also worked in smaller films, on Broadway, and on TV shows. She recently had recurring roles on the network series “Chicago P.D.,” and “All Rise” and was a contestant on “Dancing with the Stars.”

People magazine reported that several of Heche’s acting projects are expected to be released posthumously.

These include “Girl in Room 13,” expected to be released on Lifetime in September, “What Remains,” scheduled to be released in 2023, and HBO Max TV series “The Idol,” created by Abel Tesfaye (The Weeknd) and Euphoria creator Sam Levinson.

In her Instagram post from earlier this year Heche stands between her sons Atlas, 13 and Homer, 20.

From KTLA:

Continue Reading

Celebrity News

‘Star Trek’ actress Nichelle Nichols dies at 89

George Takei tweets ‘we lived long and prospered together’

Published

on

(Screenshot/YouTube The Smithsonian Channel)

She was a groundbreaking cultural icon who broke barriers in a time of societal upheaval and battling for the civil rights of Black Americans. An actress, a mother and thoroughly devoted to the legions of fans of “Star Trek,” Nichelle Nichols, Star Trek’s Lt. Nyota Uhura, has died at 89.

The announcement on her Facebook page by her son read:

Sunday, July 31, 2022

Friends, Fans, Colleagues, World

I regret to inform you that a great light in the firmament no longer shines for us as it has for so many years.

Last night, my mother, Nichelle Nichols, succumbed to natural causes and passed away. Her light however, like the ancient galaxies now being seen for the first time, will remain for us and future generations to enjoy, learn from, and draw inspiration.

Hers was a life well lived and as such a model for us all.

I, and the rest of our family, would appreciate your patience and forbearance as we grieve her loss until we can recover sufficiently to speak further. Her services will be for family members and the closest of her friends and we request that her and our privacy be respected.

Live Long and Prosper,

Kyle Johnson

Nichols was born in Robbins, Ill., in 1932, according to her IMDb page. Legendary composer Duke Ellington “discovered” Nichols and helped her become a singer and dancer. She later turned to acting, and joined Gene Roddenberry’s “Star Trek,” where she played Uhura from 1966 to 1969.

Out actor George Takei who played ‘Sulu’ on Star Trek the original series with Nichelle Nichols who played Lt. Nyota Uhura, at a Star Trek convention in this undated photo. (George Takei/Twitter)

It was in that role of Uhura that Nichols not only broke barriers between races, most famously her onscreen kiss, the first between a Black person and a white person, with castmate William Shatner, who played Capt. James T. Kirk, but she also became a role model for young Black women and men inspiring them to seek out their own places in science, technology, and other human endeavors.

In numerous interviews over the years Nichols often recalled how the Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr., was a fan of the show and praised her role and personally encouraged her to stay with the series.

When the first series ended Nichols went on to become a spokesperson for NASA, where she “helped recruit and inspire a new generation of fearless astronauts.” She later reprised her role in several successful “Star Trek” films and continued to advocate for the advancement of Black Americans especially in the areas of science and technology.

Formerly a NASA deputy administrator, Frederick Gregory, now 81, told the Associated Press he once saw an advertisement in which Nichols said “I want you to apply for the NASA program.”

“She was talking to me,” he recounted. The U.S. Air Force pilot would apply and later become the first African American shuttle pilot.

President Joe Biden weighed in Sunday afternoon on her passing in a statement issued by the White House:

In Nichelle Nichols, our nation has lost a trailblazer of stage and screen who redefined what is possible for Black Americans and women.
 
A daughter of a working-class family from Illinois, she first honed her craft as an actor and singer in Chicago before touring the country and the world performing with the likes of Duke Ellington and giving life to the words of James Baldwin.
 
During the height of the Civil Rights Movement, she shattered stereotypes to become the first Black woman to act in a major role on a primetime television show with her groundbreaking portrayal of Lt. Uhura in the original Star Trek. With a defining dignity and authority, she helped tell a central story that reimagined scientific pursuits and discoveries. And she continued this legacy by going on to work with NASA to empower generations of Americans from every background to reach for the stars and beyond.
 
Our nation is forever indebted to inspiring artists like Nichelle Nichols, who show us a future where unity, dignity, and respect are cornerstones of every society.

Nichols son said that services will be private for family members and her closest friends.

In 2008 the actress at a news conference, coordinated by the filmmakers of the motion picture “TRU LOVED,” in honor of the more than 900 students at Los Angeles’ Miguel Contreras Learning Complex’s School of Social Justice who participated in the GLSEN Day of Silence.

Nichelle Nichols speaks on LGBTQ rights:

Her fellow castmate and life long friend, openly Out actor George Takei shared his sadness on hearing of Nichols’ passing on Twitter:

From the September 2016 edition of the Smithsonian Channel: “Star Trek’s decision to cast Nichelle Nichols, an African American woman, as major character on the show was an almost unheard-of move in 1966. But for black women all over the country, it redefined the notions of what was possible.”

Star Trek’s Nichelle Nichols on Uhura’s Radical Impact:

Continue Reading

Miscellaneous

Emma Corin becomes first nonbinary person featured on cover of American Vogue

The star of The Crown opened up about their identity.

Published

on

Emma Corrin Jamie Hawkesworth/Vogue

Emma Corin was announced as the cover star of the August edition of Vogue. It’s the first time a nonbinary person is featured on the cover of American Vogue.

Corin posted the cover photo and wrote, “My grin really says it all! A huge honour to be your August cover.”

In early 2021, Corin quietly came out as a queer and nonbinary, changing pronouns to “she/they” in their instagram bio. Currently Corin sticks to pronouns “they/them.”

“I feel much more seen when I’m referred to as ‘they,’ but my closest friends, they will call me ‘she,’ and I don’t mind, because I know they know me,” Corin explained during the interview with Vogue.

Corin stated that they’ve still gone on dates with various kinds of people and set no limit on who they date. “I like people,” they simply said and shrugged.

Corin also shared some of their dating experiences. “My first date with a girl, they were like, Oh! You’re a baby queer!” Corin said, “It was amazing. We actually didn’t end up seeing each other again, but she really gave me the lowdown.”

Besides, Corin was frank about their conflicting feelings towards gender and sexuality issues. “I’m working out all this complex gender and sexuality stuff. And yet, I’m seeing a guy? That feels very juxtaposed, even if I’m very happy.”

Corin is known for playing Diana on the Netflix series The Crown.

Continue Reading
Advertisement
Advertisement

Sign Up for Weekly E-Blast

Follow Us @washblade

Advertisement

Popular