Dominick Gutierrez ’19 found inclusion and a place to embrace his identity by playing tennis at University of Lynchburg. He shared the experience in an article on Outsports.com, a website that features the stories of gay athletes.
Before attending University of Lynchburg, he struggled with insecurities about being gay. “I decided to attend University of Lynchburg because the coach made me feel welcome,” he wrote in his Outsports story. “I knew that I wanted to keep playing tennis at a higher level, and this was my chance to show that being gay does not have anything to do with who you are as an athlete.” His teammates and his fraternity brothers in Phi Kappa Tau accepted him fully and became his “family away from home.”
The Outsports story mirrors some of Dominick’s comments that he shared for a recent feature in Faces of Lynchburg. Another comment he submitted for the Faces feature sheds more light on how the closely knit team operates. “We are not only a team. We are a family,” Dominick said. “When we are playing, we are not only playing for ourselves but for each one of the teammates. We want to win for each other. We have created a strong bond.”
Diversity and inclusion are among University of Lynchburg’s core values, and Dominick is just one of many students who have experienced how an inclusive community change one’s outlook on life. For Dominick, the difference is profound. “Sports saved my life, because when I felt like I have no one to talk to, I have this place where I can always rely on my teammates,” he said.
Read his full story at Outsports.com. The story features photography by Nat LeDonne ’18, a student photographer for Lynchburg.