Cooper



This is Cooper, and this is his story. "I was doing homework in the library one night my junior year at Texas Christian University when 10 years of questioning my identity hit me upside the head."Just face it Cooper, you're gay. This is who you are. Recognize it and own it.” But, I didn't feel safe or comfortable sharing my secret. I wouldn't talk much around people because I didn't want to sound or come off as gay. Swimming helped distract me from fear. My achievements with the sport started to accumulate, including qualifying for Olympic trails, getting a scholarship to Texas Christian University, and becoming TCU's first Big XII champion my sophomore year. I branched out and met other members of the gay community while still remaining "in the closet" as they called it. I ended up trusting people who didn't earn my trust, and it backfired. I fell into a deep depression the summer before my senior year and shut myself off from the world.I didn't get any sleep, I lost weight, and my swimming career suffered tremendously.The fear of coming out and the sadness I was experiencing with my depression pushed me over the edge. I was tired of being unhappy and lonely to the point where I couldn't function anymore. I sat in my room that night and contemplated many things. A bottle of prescribed pills sat next to me. I knew I could end all the sadness. I was about four pills in when I realized — faced with death — that there had to be a way around all the pain. I ended up telling my coach everything. All of my coaches embraced me with their support and care. In that moment so many of my fears subsided. Because of all that happened to me, I was able to find the confidence to come out to my family. Since I told them I was gay, I have received nothing but love and support from them, and I am blessed to have that in my life. Life may seem unbearable sometimes, but it does get better. I just had to hold on through the dark times. I emerged from all of it stronger; I emerged a fighter." #featurefriday