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Allies Host Vincent Pryor for Annual Gay in Athletics Event

For The Heights

Published: Sunday, November 13, 2011

Updated: Wednesday, January 9, 2013 19:01

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Graham Beck / Heights Staff

Former Texas Christian University linebacker Vincent Pryor recounted his coming-out experience at the Allies' annual Gay in Athletics event, held in Fulton Hall last Thursday.

From his experiences as a young boy growing up in southern Texas, to the moment he came out to his team in 1994, which preceded the self-labeled "best game of [his] career," in which he set the team record for most sacks in one game, Pryor shared the process through which he was able to become open about his homosexuality.

He began by calling his story a "What If?" story, saying that he frequently wonders how his football career would have been altered if he had come out earlier. He then told a story of one particular instance at TCU that kept him in the closet.

In 1992, a new coaching staff took over the football team. Soon after, the defensive coordinator came into the locker room where all the players were seated and asked, pointing at one of the players, "Are you a homosexual?" Pryor re-enacted the moment, pretending to be the coach and pacing around the front of the room. He pointed at someone else. "Are you a homosexual? I will not have any homosexuals disgracing my team."

Pryor said he remembered being terrified that someone on the team knew he was gay and had told. "That forced me further into the closet," he said.

He then went on to recount his experiences with homophobia starting from a young age.

He told of a party he went to as a fourth or fifth grader. He and his friends were playing spin-the-bottle, and the person explaining the rules said that if a boy spun the bottle and it landed on another boy, he would kiss the girl sitting next to that boy. Pryor recalls saying, "I want to kiss the boy if it lands on the boy."

People did not react well to that comment, Pryor said. His brother told him that he had embarrassed him. Someone else told him he was going to be a homosexual, and he was going to walk funny and talk with a lisp.

"I knew I couldn't be that guy," Pryor said.

From then on, Pryor sought out all people who fit that description and bullied them. He recalled one time he beat up a kid so badly he was called to the principal's office. He remembers saying to the principal that he beat up the kid because he was homosexual.

When his dad moved the family out to California, Pryor was excited because he had heard that lots of gay people lived in California. He wanted to meet and talk to some of them to learn what it was like to be out.

Walking on the beach with his uncle one day, he spied a gay couple. However, when his uncle saw them, he said, "That's disgusting. That's gross. That should be illegal."

This attitude was common to most members of his family, several of whom were in the military.

The first time he was able to explore his sexuality with another boy was in the sixth or seventh grade, when a boy he had been bullying realized that Pryor was gay and kissed him in the bathroom.

In high school, Pryor remained in the closet. He remembers feeling uncomfortable on official football visits to colleges where women would throw themselves at him.

When he got to TCU, Pryor kept his sexuality hidden because he was afraid of the consequences of coming out. He feared being rejected from the team or even losing his scholarship.

But in 1993, the TCU Triangle/Allies started, and Pryor was able to use it as a vehicle for moving through the coming-out process. In 1994, TCU hosted an ecumenical exchange on campus. Several people in the Triangle planned to use it as the forum for coming out. Pryor decided to join them.

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