Adam Goslin is a trailblazer, leading an unchartered path with a football in one hand, and his baseball glove and aluminum bat in the other.
He was a two-sport athlete at Washington University in St. Louis, from where he graduated this past December. He played three years of football for Washington, an NCAA Division III school, following a year on the Hillsdale ( Mich. ) College club. Goslin also played one year of baseball for Washington and two at Hillsdale.
'There were ups and downs [ playing football for Washington ] . I remember the journey more than individual games. The spring practices. The lifting with the guys. Those bonding moments,' said Goslin, 23, born and raised in Troy, Mich.
And all along his sporting journey, Goslin was gay—and out.
Goslin, openly gay while active, did what no professional athlete from any of the big four sports ( baseball, football, basketball and hockey ) has ever done. And the number of openly gay college athletes from the big-four can be counted on one hand—with spare fingers.
'One of the really cool things is the overall support I've received [ since coming out ] ' Goslin said. 'In fact, some people who I didn't think would take it very well have actually come out with me to the gay bars and have had fun [ there ] .
'I was worried at first [ about coming out ] . I didn't come out at Hillsdale because it was a really conservative place—yet I've had no problems here. Even now, I thought it would be hard going from player to a volunteer coach [ for the Bears ] . I didn't know if the players would listen to me. Would I get dis-respected [ because I'm gay ] ? But I have not had a problem with anybody. I don't know if the response to me would have been any different [ from the players ] had I played elsewhere, but I hope not.'
Goslin was a first baseman and designated hitter ( DH ) in baseball. He played defensive end on the gridiron, earning All-Conference accolades as a senior while playing against such opponents as the University of Chicago, Lake Forest College, Wheaton College and Case Western Reserve University, among others.
Goslin played in all 10 games for the Bears in 2006, recording a career-high 21 tackles, including 18 solo stops. He recovered two fumbles for the Bears, who finished 6-4.
Goslin also played in all 10 games in each of his two other seasons at Washington, recording a combined 29 tackles in those seasons.
'Growing up, I felt really awkward because I would see gay people represented on television and the stereotypes that went with [ those gay people ] , well, I didn't fit any of them. I don't go shopping a lot, or do my hair; I always just played sports,' Goslin said.
Goslin knew he was gay at a young age. He even told his parents, Joe and Linda, when he was in the sixth grade, though they downplayed his coming out, suspecting he was just questioning himself. Hillsdale, he said, was too conservative for him to come out. But Washington was a different atmosphere, with more than 6,000 students in a major city—and with a gay community.
'Looking back, I know there are some things that I wish I had done different,' he said. 'For instance, I wish I had told more people face-to-face rather than having to answering rumors. I wish I would have dealt with the rumors a little faster.'
Ah, yes—the gay rumors.
Goslin played his first season on the Washington football team as a straight player—or so it appeared to his teammates. He just didn't tell them, much the way they didn't announce to him that they are straight. He was shy and kept to himself as a Bears' first-year player.
After his first football season, in January 2005, Goslin and football/baseball teammate Scott Guthrie were lifting weights together. Guthrie looked at Goslin and said, 'I know your type of woman and I want to find you the perfect woman. You're then going to have kids and you can name your first child after me.'
Goslin laughed and replied, 'Scotty, if you find me that, I'll name all of my kids after you, not just my first. But it's not going to happen.'
'Why?' Guthrie asked.
'Because I'm gay,' Goslin said.
And thus the weight of the world had been lifted off Goslin's shoulders, telling his friend and teammate who he really was.
'I was a little nervous telling [ Guthrie ] and I made sure that some of my other friends who already knew [ that I was gay ] and didn't have a problem with it were around, and they were his friends too, just in case he felt awkward,' Goslin said.
The additional support wasn't needed—Guthrie accepted Goslin. Still does. In fact, the two are roommates.
Whispers about Goslin's sexuality spread across campus after he told Guthrie, including to his football and baseball teammates.
'A lot were fascinated with the fact I was gay; they didn't understand [ that I was gay ] though they didn't object,' he said. 'I think it was good that they saw how [ well ] I played my first [ football ] season [ at Washington ] .'
By the spring of 2005, Goslin said most, if not all, of the baseball team knew he was gay. None objected, he said.
When the '05 football season started, Goslin knew that many of his football teammates knew, though maybe not all. And none objected, he said.
'I never hid who I was, my sexuality. If people ever wanted to know, I was up front with them. If someone ever asked me, I never had a problem telling them, talking to them, answering their questions,' he said. 'It's a little nerve-racking [ coming out ] because you never know how it's going to go. You hear rumors about how athletes aren't very supportive and are very homophobic. But, since I came out, I've never had one problem.
'I don't really have worries since coming out; I'm happy with what I'm doing. I'm more worried about finding a job in athletics.'
Goslin is dreaming of landing his ultimate job: commissioner for the Big Ten or Pac 10 Conference—or even the NFL.
Goslin is convinced a gay athlete could survive any potential fallout from coming out at a larger college. 'I don't see why not, though it definitely would take the right person in the right situation,' he said. 'And, it would be a lot better, a lot easier if it was the team's star player.'
'A lot would have to do with the character of the kids on the team, and everything starts with the coach. If there's a high-quality, character coach who is recruiting kids who are character kids, then it could happen anywhere,' he said. 'I think it definitely will happen by the time my generation moves into power because my generation kind of grew up in the gay-generation; we all know people who are gay; it's very accepting in my generation to be gay. I know in my parent's generation it's less accepting, mostly because they didn't know anyone who was gay and, if they did, it was always hush-hush, don't say anything about him.'
However, Goslin said it still might be another 10 years before an NCAA Division I player comes out while active—or longer.
And what about a pro from one of the big four?
'It definitely could happen; it just has to be a superstar first because no one is going to sacrifice him [ just because he comes out ] ,' Goslin said. 'If it's Shaq [ Shaquille O'Neal ] or Tracy McGrady, it wouldn't matter that the player was gay because of what he brings to the game.'
Goslin said it likely would be easier for a basketball player to come out while active, despite the hateful comments from former NBA All-Star Tim Hardaway following John Amaechi's revelation that he was gay, because he'd only have 11 teammates to deal with. A football team, on the other hand, has about 100 players on its roster.
'Teammates, if you give them a chance, will be accepting. I say that based on my case; coming out has been such a positive experience,' Goslin said. 'And, if you're a professional athlete, I think coming out would be lucrative for you.'
GETTING TO KNOW … Adam Goslin
High School: Detroit Country Day, Class of 2002
Wants to meet: Billie Jean King, Martina Navratilova and John Amaechi. 'I think he's a very interesting, fascinating person, and not just because he's gay.'
Favorite music: 'Anything but classical. I grew up on Motown.'
Quotable: 'I just want to let other closeted athletes know that you don't have to be in the closet, that you definitely should not quit playing sports just because you are gay.'
Favorite sports teams: 'Everyone in Detroit.'
Favorite coaches: Joe Paterno, Pat Summit and Vivian Stringer.
Favorite sport: Football
Favorite TV Shows: 'Anything on The Food Network and Pardon The Interruption [ on ESPN ] .'
Favorite movies: Silence of the Lambs and Loggerheads.