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Columbia Univ. Track Star on Coming Out

Columbia Univ. Track Star on Coming Out

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Columbia University senior and track and field athlete Cory Benton says coming out to his coaches and fellow teammates was a better experience than he expected.

"This is kind of cliche, but one of the many things that I have learned at Columbia is that you cannot judge a book by its cover," he wrote on Outsports.com. "I never thought my teammates and coaches would be so supportive. It often makes me emotional when I recall how I had almost left them for good without giving them a chance to get to know the part of me that I had been hiding from the world. I would not be the strong, confident gay athlete I am today without my coaches and teammates. I have heard of some coaches that destroy their athletes' dreams and love of the sport when they come out, but this was not the case for me at Columbia University."

Benton added that living in a affluent neighborhood on Long Island was eye-opening, and made him feel ostracized because of his race -- never quite fitting in among his white friends or his black friends.

"Coming out was hard for me because of my childhood," he wrote. "As a young child I was always very social and talkative. However, once I began to realize that I was little different, I started to suppress certain aspects of my personality. I consequently talked less and became a repressed, shy teenager lacking confidence."

Benton, a 400-meter sprinter, was part of the 4x400-meter relay team that set a new outdoor record at the 2007 NCAA Regional championships, according to the Columbia athletics website. He has also competed in the state track and field championships, and ran the distance medley relay at the Nike Outdoor National championships.

Read the full column at Outsports.com

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