A gay Kentucky basketball player who was chased out of a high school by a rival team for coming out is using the traumatizing moment to change lives.
Dalton Maldonado was pelted with homophobic slurs by players of an opposing team during a tournament when he finally stood up in front of the entire gym and said “I’m gay. I’m gay, okay?’”
“I sat back down and realized that I had just came out, and it was definitely not the way I wanted to,” he told Outsports. “Reflecting back to this moment, I realize that there was nothing I could do about it.”
The devastated Betsy Layne High School senior later collapsed onto a locker room bench and broke down, his friend said.
“If you weren’t there, it’s hard to describe how emotional Dalton was,” teammate McKenzie Akers told the leading gay news publication. “He was crying so hard he was shaking. Like, physically shaking.”
The already mortifying experience took a turn for the worse when the other team attacked Dalton’s bus as his team was boarding, screaming “f----t” and pounding on the bus windows.
Dalton’s team rallied to his defense, forming a human barricade to prevent the violent teens from getting near him.
But the persistent harassers tailed the bus in their cars, still hurling hurtful slurs.
“They were making gestures like they were trying to shoot at the bus,” Akers said, according to Outsports. “They kept yelling that word. They wanted to get to Dalton. It was intense.”
Dalton, who had come out to his parents earlier that week in December, said he’s using the experience now to reach other young athletes who might be hiding their pain in states where same-sex marriage is illegal.
“I’m not ashamed of who I am. I can stand up for myself, and I had my teammates and coaches by my side,” he said. “Now here I am telling the world.”