A high school graduate has opened up about his experience as an openly gay member of his school’s football team … and its kick team.
As revealed in his first-person story in the Out Sports blog, former Anahuac two-way starting lineman Austin Hodges spent his team’s halftime breaks performing with the school’s drill team, high kicks and all. He would take off his helmet, apply makeup and line up alongside his drill teammates, performing the entire routine before returning to the sideline and trotting back out at the onset of the second half.
Hodges, who graduated from Anahuac in 2016 and is a rising sophomore at the University of Houston, said that he never suffered persecution for his sexuality at his school. Rather, his sports teams — football and track and field, predominantly — helped fill the roles left vacant by his family, which made him an outcast after learning of his sexuality.
Instead, Hodges took to the field with the kick team both because he wanted to and to expose others to the more “flamboyant side” of gay or straight student athletes.
“… the best faces to watch were those of the other teams and their parents because they all just realized “the gay kid who wears makeup and does the splits” was kicking their butts on the field — I played both offensive and defensive line — and was going to do it again when halftime was over.
My male teammates never had a problem with me doing double duty with the drill team and neither did my coaches. I was always welcomed back to the game with support and applause from my teammates and coaches when halftime was over.
I like to think that by performing with the drill team, that I opened some minds. I was able to show that not only can gay men play sports but that they can also have, for lack of a better word, a “flamboyant” side as well and that it was OK that straight men and gay men can have both sides, that it was OK to be different.”
Naturally, Hodges’ story is a terrific reminder of the importance of diversity of all kinds in sports, and just how influential one strong student athlete can be when they need to. At Houston, Hodges is a member of a fraternity and has clearly emerged as a leader for equal rights across the campus community.
If he couldn’t find that in his own home, he found it with his teams and friends in a school community that embraced him in the best way he could have dreamed of.