Abrahm DeVine, 23, is a championship swimmer. He has been a two-time member of the U.S. national team at the world championships and the Pac-12 swimmer of the year in 2018, according to the Washington Post. But in an Instagram post he shared this week, he said that he was kicked off of the Stanford University swim team for being gay after coming out in a September 2018 interview with Swimming World.
“How can you not see how Stanford Swim has treated me and used me over the last 4 years? Am I invisible? Plain and simple: there are surface level reasons I was kicked off the Stanford swim team, but I can tell you with certainty that it comes down to the fact that I am gay,” DeVine wrote in part.
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As many of you know, I’m an openly gay swimmer and I am the only one at my level. I want to use this post to call out some of the homophobia that I’ve experienced being an athlete, and encourage everyone to be thoughtful and intentional about changing some of the homophobic aspects of the athletic culture that exists today. While I have many specific examples of micro aggressions and outright aggressions that I’ve experienced, homophobia is ultimately much more than an accumulation of experiences. In fact, it is a denial of experience. While I feel like I’ve tried to convey this to many people, many of whom deny any possibility that they contribute it, I’ve started to ask myself: Why is it my job to educate coaches and athletes at the most resourceful university in the world? I cannot continue to try to engage people in this conversation when there is so much fragility to obscure my humanity and character, so much rhetoric to keep me silent. Everyone says they support me, and yet, for the millionth time, I am the only one speaking up. To my coaches who sport the pride flag on their desk, to the athletes who liked my pride photo on Instagram, I need you to wake up to what’s happening around you. How can you say you support me and my equality? How can you not see how Stanford Swim has treated me and used me over the last 4 years? Am I invisible? Plain and simple: there are surface level reasons I was kicked off the Stanford swim team, but I can tell you with certainty that it comes down to the fact that I am gay. This is a pattern. Homophobia is systematic, intelligently and masterfully designed to keep me silent and to push me out. I am a talented, successful, educated, proud, gay man: I am a threat to the culture that holds sports teams together. I want something to change, because I can’t take it anymore. My story is not unique. There are queer voices everywhere and all you have to do is listen. I am asking, begging for some sort of action. If you are reading this, this post is for you! Gay or straight, swimmer or not. None of us are exempt from homophobia. It is your civil duty to educate yourself. If you choose not to, it is at my expense.
DeVine graduated from Stanford in June and had been training at the school as a professional. But in August, about a month after competing at the world championships in South Korea, he joined Team Elite Aquatics in San Diego, according to the Post.
DeVine originally said in interviews that his teammates and coaches were supportive when he came out. But he has since changed his tune. After his original Instagram post, he wrote more on his Instagram story.
“I do not want anyone to be fired,” DeVine wrote. “Stanford swimming is not immune to criticism. I am calling out what I have experienced. It is my truth and I am allowed to speak it. Coaches trying to intimidate me, friends turning their backs, cis straight white men trying to deny something they don’t want to understand. History is repeating itself in front of me and it’s sad to see.”
Stanford swimming has denied DeVine’s accusations.
“It is truly unfortunate Abe feels this way,” Stanford assistant athletic director Brian Risso and Cardinal swimming coaches Greg Meehan and Dan Schemmel said in a statement. “That said, Abe wasn’t invited back to train with us this fall, as a postgraduate, for reasons entirely unrelated to his sexuality. We take pride in the inclusivity and supportiveness that exists on both our men’s and women’s teams, but we will continue to strive, as always, to improve those aspects of our culture.”