‘I felt like I was never going to stop crying, never going to be happy’
Jacob Jean was just weeks away from high school graduation when his boyfriend Zack killed himself.
He found out about it while sitting in class and all eyes were on him when a fellow student announced the news.
‘… Disbelief, fear, and shock began to flash through my body. This moment felt like forever,’ Jean writes in an column for Outsports.
‘A time where most students find happiness in graduating, graduation parties, and moving to college, I found myself depressed and in a dark space,’ Jean remembers.
‘I spent my time being constantly angry and pushing those that cared about me away.’
But Jean continued to participate in cheerleading that summer through his local community program and Michigan State University where he would go on to cheer for the next four years.
Coaches and teammates both new and old made no attempt to pretend Zack’s suicide did not happen and showed ‘immense compassion.’
‘It’s hard to imagine going through Zack’s passing without coming out and being an athlete of a team,’ he writes.
‘Coming out has eliminated my fears of having to keep secrets. A key component to my healing was the fact that I did not have to hide my feelings, emotions, and thoughts.
‘What I went through is something that no one should ever do alone. I wish everyone could find the strength to be true to themselves and come out. It’s an amazing life when you are able to be true to who you are.
‘Four years ago I felt like I was never going to stop crying, never going to be happy, and never have a zest for life. My sport, and those in it, proved me wrong.’