College football Bryson Jones has opened up about how his traumatic experiences in the closet led to an attempt to take his own life.
Jones was studying at Mercer University in Georgia and playing on the soccer team when one of his fellow teammates found out about his sexuality.
While at the party, someone broke into his car and stole some items, including a backpack that belonged to a fellow teammate.
"This particular teammate found out that I was gay the night before by reading some text messages on a friend's phone," Jones writes in Outsports
"Upset that his expensive hiking backpack was gone, he threatened to out me to my team if I didn't pay for it."
Jones explains how he was backed into a corner and paid for a new backpack. He recalls how the threat of being outed immediately left him feeling "desperate".
"The fear of my teammates finding out I was gay scared the life out of me. I no longer had control over who knew my secret. My biggest insecurity was now in the hands of someone who was willing to use my sexuality against me as blackmail."
Jones then found himself in his apartment with a bottle of pills, but he eventually decided against taking his own life after realising the pain his family would go through.
"I decided my life was worth living," he adds.
He didn't come out until after graduation, when he attended a wedding in Mercer and states that after telling his teammates, he received support and even apologies.
"One teammate in particular called me on my drive back to Virginia with so much remorse for ever making me feel uncomfortable or unloved. I pulled over and sobbed after that phone call. one of the people I was most fearful of coming out to loved me for me."
Jones then continued to come out to people including his Christian family. He currently works as the assistant director of communications at the Big Team Conference in Chicago, Illinois.
He writes, "It is by no means easy being gay in today's society, especially in the world of college athletics."
"Being black and gay adds another entire level of difficulty, but I've been getting through it... I continually think, 'Is there a need to hide myself from the world anymore?' I truly don't think there is."
You can read Jones's full column over at Outsports
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