When 17-year-old high school water polo star Noah Ratliff decided to come out via Facebook, he hoped for the best.
He’d already told a few close friends at Gresham High School in Gresham, Ore., and the support he felt from them gave him the extra ounce of courage to speak his truth to his entire network.
“I hope that everyone will support me and understand I just couldn’t keep this a secret anymore because I want to be happy with myself and hope that you’re all happy for me as well,” he wrote, adding “If you have any questions or just want to talk to me feel free to message me or text me if you have my number.”
True to Facebook form, the response was instant.
One of Noah’s favorite replies, he writes in an OutSports first-person, was from his water polo teammate Jake.
“Anyone who does water polo is at least a little gay,” Jake told him. “But seriously way to go dude.”
In a different context, Jake’s comment could be construed as homophobic, but the overwhelmingly positive intention behind it shows just how far past the issue so many teens have become.
And the rest of the responses were equally encouraging.
Another teammate, Thomas, told Noah “I wanted to say that it’s awesome that you came out! Honestly don’t really care that much, you’re still that same old Noah who bullies me in the pool. But much respect man.”
This summer, Noah will compete in the USA Water Polo Junior Olympic Championships, and in the fall will attend Mercyhurst University in Pennsylvania to study biology and play on the men’s water polo team.
We imagine he’ll find just as much acceptance in his new community.