Eric, an energetic 25-year-old university administrator who is partnered, is playing tennis doubles at the OutGames with Rodney Ferrell. But he’s also played table tennis, squash, badminton and racket ball, explaining that at age five his parents hired a “sports tutor” so he could try out “every sport on earth. Anything with me holding a racket or paddle stuck and I was best on a big court.” And this “huge dreams” guy is also involved in improv and standup comedy.
Growing up in New Rochelle, New York, Eric also lived in Lancaster, Pennsylvania and Houston, Texas before moving to West Hollywood (WeHo), an area that really suits his self-described personality as a “true hell-or-high water Sagittarian,” unlike the rest of his family. He revealed that he “was a worrywart as a kid and really cared what others thought of me. It was totally freeing and healthy to finally let go of the unnecessary burden of trying to fit into the boxes other people want me to fit into and live for myself.” And the former elementary school teacher and honey bee researcher has done that with élan, saying he feels like he’s already lived multiple lives in one lifetime, something that only makes him want to do “more interesting stuff!”
Coming out as gay in his college fraternity, Eric forged close ties with the LGBTQ community while participating in the AIDS/LifeCycle. He said that moving to WeHo kicked him into high gear to get as fit as possible so he can achieve sports goals he once thought were impossible for him to achieve. He says that “no goal in tennis is off limits to me. I want to play with the best players I can, learn from failures and allow myself to enjoy successes. Also, professional tennis has the absence of a fabulous gay commentator so if ESPN or the Tennis Channel is hiring, I’m totally game.”
As you can see from these three men’s stories, there isn’t a one-size-fits-all athlete. But it is their common belief in inclusion and diversity in sports that unites them, drawing them to participant in an event like the World OutGames. In the words of Eric, “I think any inclusion of the LGBTQ community is positive, especially in such a hetero-normative atmosphere as athletics. There’s an innate human quality when competing in sports that allows for people to lower their guards and see each other for who they are – people. Like RuPaul says, ‘We’re born naked and the rest is drag.’”
Please join us at Compete Magazine as we wish all the participants at the World OutGames a magical, transformative experience that’s also lots of fun, because to also quote RuPaul, “Life is an illusion; don’t take it too seriously.” After all, who can question RuPaul’s advice on life!
By Connie Wardman
Part 4 of 4. To read the full story check it out in our digital edition.
Courtesy of Brandon O’Dell Photography