ND athlete shares story about coming out to help others - Fox 28: South Bend, Elkhart IN News, Weather, Sports

ND athlete shares story about coming out to help others


An emotional article from a Notre Dame athlete has gained national attention.

Matt Dooley is a Notre Dame Senior, who also plays tennis for the university.

In an article for Outsports.com, Dooley discusses trying to take his own life instead of coming out as gay. He writes, "Death was better than accepting - or revealing - that I was gay."

FOX28 talked with Dooley about the article. "There's a lot of fear involved growing up, and you don't have anyone to talk to," he says. "So you just start to feel like you're the only one going through it, and there's no escape. It's really smothering."

Dooley awakened in a hospital bed in September of 2011 after trying to take his life. Two years later, he came out to a teammate...and later the rest of his team and coaches.

"We're still great friends today and the team has really embraced me as you've seen," he says. "And we're really trying to make some changes. So, it's good stuff.

The change Matt is talking about is working with the national "You Can Play" project. Its motto is simple: "If you can play, you can play."

"This initiative is legitimate, and we're actually trying to change the culture," says Dooley.

Dooley and some others at Notre Dame are going to make a video for "You Can Play." There are a number of them on their Web site from different universities. You Can Play is going to make a presentation on campus. They'll do things like provide resources for the athletic department and talk with athletes and provide them with any help that they need.

The president of "You Can Play" is a Notre Dame alum, who says the university wasn't exactly welcoming to gay people when he was a student about 10 years ago.

"We've come a long way in a decade," says President of "You Can Play," Patrick Burke. "Notre Dame has done a lot to try and improve things, and Matt's just the latest example of that."

Burke says "You Can Play" is all about respect, so even though we're talking about an initiative involving the LGBT community, he's not surprised the university is on board. "Nothing we do contradicts Catholic teachings," he says. "Our motto, our mission, what we preach is that everyone has the right to be treated with respect and dignity and nothing about that contradicts what Notre Dame preaches..

Dooley says while his story wasn't easy to share, he hopes the message resonates. "While this exposure isn't really fun for someone like me, or the others I'm working with here at ND, it's to serve a better purpose and help those people and really drive home the message that you're not alone," he says.


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