By Annie Hollenbeck
Originally published on Advocate.com May 29 2014 1:58 PM ET
Since coming out publicly in 2013, WNBA star Brittney Griner has spoken out about her discontent with antigay policies and teachings at Baylor University, and her occasionally rocky relationship with Baylor head coach Kim Mulkey. Now, another gay former Lady Bear is speaking out about life for LGBT people at the Christian university in Waco, Texas, but contrary to what one might assume, her biggest regret is not being out and open sooner.
Emily Nkosi candidly writes about the homophobic environment she experienced at Baylor and the many factors that delayed her coming-out in an op-ed posted Wednesday on Outsports.com. Among these reasons were the lack of support and inclusion she felt from the university, blatant teachings against homosexuality from her professors, and a faith-based, self-inflicted homophobia that escalated in 2005, when Baylor was on the road to an NCAA title.
“After we won the National Championship I felt unfulfilled, but that had nothing to do with anyone but me,” Nkosi wrote.
She decided to leave the team, a decision she now regrets and equates with a lack of ability to channel the challenges she was facing into motivation for her game.
“I could have used this to grow a new perspective on the game of basketball, a much healthier one, but instead I set myself on a path that eventually led me to thinking basketball no longer made sense for me,” she continues. “It was a missed opportunity and I regret it.”
Griner made headlines last year when she alleged that Mulkey told her not to be open about her sexuality in fear that it would hurt recruiting. But Nkosi says in her article that she did not leave Baylor because Mulkey was homophobic. In fact, she says she appreciates Mulkey’s concern for her well-being. In her 2008 book Won’t Back Down, Mulkey wrote, “I will always worry about Emily,” a sentiment Nkosi understands, as her coming-out process involved deep personal struggle.
Almost a decade after she left the team, Nkosi has a wife, a baby, and a happy life. “If you have ever felt regret about a life changing decision, I hope you find parts of yourself” in this essay, she wrote on Outsports.com. “If you have ever felt overwhelmed by your life circumstances, I hope you found parts of yourself here. If you have ever felt confused, ashamed, guilty, alone or scared in your process of dealing with those emotions and you made some wrong turns along the way, I hope you find some compassion for yourself here. If one person reads this and feels less alone in their pain or fear then I have achieved my goal.”