By Neal Broverman
Originally published on Advocate.com February 15 2012 4:00 PM ET
Jason Somerville, a professional card player who won the 2011 World Series of Poker, came out on his blog on Valentine's Day.
The Stony Brook, N.Y.-based player wrote that poker is welcoming to different races and genders, but yet there is not one high-profile gay male player. Somerville decided he would become the first.
"I always knew I wasn’t straight, but I never spoke a word of it for twenty two years, and nobody really ever knew otherwise," Somerville writes." I dated women exclusively through my teens and early 20s, doing my best to convince myself that it wasn’t something I had to pursue, that maybe I’d grow out of it, that I’d be happier with women anyway, that I just should focus on other things. After a lot of struggling and a lot of anxiety, I eventually came out to one of my close friends when I was 22. That same year, the second and third people I came out to were my parents (probably the hardest thing I’ve ever done), from which I basically received the not-exactly-what-I-needed reaction of ‘keep it to yourself, don’t tell anyone.’ I told very few people from then until I was 24 (by the way, my parents are way better now)."
Somerville says he decided to begin putting his happiness his first and making money second (he won nearly half a million dollars at the 2011 World Series of Poker, playing No-Limit, Hold 'Em).
"As 2011 continued on, and my mindset became more focused on being happy, I pushed myself to make the changes I wanted," he writes. "I started being more and more open, telling more and more people, and eventually started dating. I became more empowered by the growing personal freedoms I felt as I increasingly was just myself by default, less and less often censoring my thoughts, desires, and feelings. The small personal ‘victories’ piled up, I gained a lot of forward momentum, and the positive changes started to snowball ... and here we are now, writing this post. I’m totally open in my personal life, in an amazing relationship that means a great deal to me, and bottom line, I’m honestly happier now than I’ve ever been."
Read more here.