ESPN reporter and Around the Horn contributor Israel Guiterrez wrote a moving blog post on Friday revealing publicly for the first time that he is gay.  Gutierrez wrote honestly about his personal struggle with coming out, but did so at this time because he’s about to get married.

The outpouring of support for Gutierrez was tremendous to see and another sign of forward progress in sports.  Gutierrez shared how he was inspired by Welsh rugby star Gareth Thomas’s coming out and meeting his future husband in 2010:

It wasn’t until 2010, a year after I’d met my now fiancé, David Kitchen, and was out to my friends and family, that I read an amazing Sports Illustrated story about Gareth Thomas–the-only-openly-gay-male-athlete , a Welsh rugby player who’d recently come out and went through so many of the same experiences I did.

Mine weren’t as extreme as Thomas’, who spoke of scrubbing his thighs so violently after a gay experience that he’d make himself bleed out of guilt. He was a national sports icon in his country. His denial was so strong he married a woman, which unfortunately is a far more common an act than you’d think, and has spoken about how heartbreaking it was to tell his wife and eventually divorce her.

Thomas’ story was so compelling, and had so many similar notes to my own, it made me wonder how many young men and women are still having to go through this same existence. Hiding yourself from yourself.

I don’t know how much my self-hatred would’ve spread, or the damage it could’ve done, had it not been for a chance meeting on May 31, 2009.

At this point, I was 31 years old and wanted to stop lying to myself. Yet I was still only building up the confidence to visit gay establishments while away from home. And those visits were still few and far between.

That particular day, I was in Phoenix, and I met David.

Not only had I long ago convinced myself that there was no one out there for me, but I was still so ashamed of being gay, I could barely say it out loud – even when I was speaking with another gay person.

But in one 24-hour span that began with that introduction to David, it all changed.

He also recognized a number of prominent athletes come out in recent years including Thomas, Robbie Rogers, Jason Collins, and Michael Sam as well as a list of supportive co-workers at ESPN:

I also want to thank so many of my friends and co-workers, particularly those that helped guide me throughout portions of these last few years, including Dan LeBatard, Kevin Arnovitz, Tim Reynolds, Jorge Sedano, Ethan Skolnick and Jemele Hill. Anyone who I might be omitting, you know who you are. Just know you’ve all been tremendously influential.

I’m confident that now that this is out in the open, I can deliver an even better version of my professional self.

Happiness tends to bring out the best in a person. And I’m so happy right now.

Well said, Israel.  Congratulations.

About Matt Yoder

Award winning sportswriter at The Comeback and Awful Announcing. The biggest cat in the whole wide world.