Sunday, February 04, 2007

Why It Matters to Be Out: Michael Anthony Castro

From ESPN (click to read the entire article; thanks, Peter):

You see Michael Anthony Castro, the three-sport star athlete and most popular kid in school, was openly gay. Came out when he was a sophomore.

"He caught a lot of crap over the first six to nine months after coming out," says Phil Takacs, a Banning High counselor. "Sometimes he would come to my office and ask if he could just spend the rest of the day there. He would say that he couldn't take being called 'faggot' any more today and just needed a break. He even thought about quitting sports. But over time, Anthony just got tired of the other kids making him feel bad for who he was.

"One day he was in practice and one of the other wrestlers was giving him a bunch of crap about being gay. Anthony looked at the kid and said 'You have a problem with me; why don't we take this to the mat?' This guy wrestled in the heaviest division, but Anthony pinned him in less than 30 seconds. That guy never said anything else again."

Takacs became Anthony's guardian after Anthony's mother showed him the door shortly after he came out at 16. His father is in prison. Takacs, who is also gay, said initially he was concerned about having Anthony stay with him for fear of disparaging rumors, but he didn't want to see Anthony out in the cold either.

"We're a redneck little town out here," Takacs said. "My partner and I were always scared living here because we always thought our asses would get kicked. But Anthony taught me a lot. He taught us all a lot. He made it OK to be gay."

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