Over the past several months, International Boxer Orlando Cruz has made headlines after he came out as gay. Some may have felt the move in any sports arena to admit being gay would hurt their image and performance, but Cruz proved differently. In fact, Cruz himself says coming out made his performance better:
I have earned myself respect as an athlete. I have only lost 2 out of 22 professional fights. I knocked out some of my opponents in the first round. But I never really received respect as a person. That’s something I had come to realize over the past few years. The end of my boxing career is no longer that far off, and it was time for me to make peace with myself. And there was a second reason for me to come out: I hoped it would make me a better boxer.”
Cruz acknowledges that it took a while to become comfortable with the idea of coming out and that for him it was a process, but also worth it:
First of all, I was forced recognize that I could not manage it alone. Three years ago, I went and got help from a psychologist, and we met every two weeks. He helped me to work out whether I really wanted to come out for my own sake, or whether I was being pushed into doing it. Only once it was clear to me that this was my most deep-seated wish was I was able to go through with it. Six months ago in New York, I met with the founder of an organization that fights for gay and lesbian rights. He helped me with the media relations work. He gave me tips for my press release, and we set up a Twitter profile especially for my coming out, which I now post to in English and Spanish.
Now that he is out, Cruz feels he can focus more on his training:
“Until now, I have kept my personal life and my career strictly separate from each other. No one was supposed to know that I’m gay. This game of hide-and-seek was incredibly strenuous and it took a lot of energy out of me. Now I’m hoping that I can put that energy into my training.”
Cruz did in fact win his first boxing match after coming out several weeks ago. And hopefully this will help others that may be wanting to come out in professional athletics to do so their own way and their own time.