NBA : “I will not wait for the end of my career to declare that I am gay”


Her Eurohoops team/

Different sexual preferences are rarely declared publicly in men’s professional sports, let alone in basketball.

However, the professional player of 3×3, Marco Lehmann, spoke to the camera of FIBA ​​and was revealed, now openly declaring himself gay.

He spoke at length about the difficulties of his life, as he was hiding from his teammates, while no one had learned the truth about him. In fact, this double life drowned him to such an extent that last year he suffered many panic attacks.

His detailed story, as described by Marco Lehmann himself:

“My name is Marco Lehmann. I am a 27 year old professional 3 × 3 basketball player and I decided not to wait until I retired to announce that I am gay.

How did I imagine I would go out? Let me explain: the game is tied. I take the last shot. I aim. I am the winner of the game. I’m the champion, I’ve even won the MVP award. Everyone is celebrating. I kiss my friend in front of everyone. Bam, I’m revealed. I wake up and everything is fine.

Unfortunately, none of this has happened so far. Do not misunderstand me: I put some winning shots! But to date, I have not been revealed. My family, my friends, my 3 × 3 teammates knew it for a while, but that’s it.

I could probably keep it a secret until the end of my professional career. But I decided otherwise.

This is the reason. Mental endurance is one of the most important characteristics of an athlete. And I always thought it was one of my best qualities. But that’s exactly what collapsed like a tower of playing cards in late 2019 for me.

At that time, I was playing professional basketball for nine years. It was my third season combining basketball in the winter and I played 3 × 3 with the Swiss national team and Team Lausanne on the World Tour. For three years, I played 47 weekends every year. We traveled the world, played in 20 countries. Sydney, Los Angeles, Montreal, Tokyo, you name it. By the sea, in historic city centers, sometimes in large shopping malls. For a while, I even reached the Top 15 in the world rankings. I was definitely living the dream.

And yet I was not happy.

I had changed personalities a long time ago, which affected my mental health. Every week the same old thing: my boyfriend would take me to the airport and the minute I got through security, the happy gay man in a relationship turned into an unemotional professional athlete who did not want to talk about his personal Zoe.

In December 2019, I hit rock bottom. I started to have emotional outbursts, tears, cold sweat. And why; We are just thinking about the next workout. Are we talking about training? I just could not bear the thought that I would have to change again the personality I have at home, with my competitive one.

I said I was sick and isolated myself, hoping the panic attacks would stop. But they did not. The travel ban and the suspension of the events due to the pandemic helped me to hide my mental problems from the world of basketball. I always thought I would spend my whole career repeating “I don’t have a girlfriend because I want to focus on basketball”. But I could not anymore.

It’s like in team sports, there are no gay men. Being gay in this environment is taboo. People are not talking about it and it must stop NOW. Because honestly, this is why many young children stop playing team sports when they find out they are gay. You will understand after I share these 2 stories with you.

A coach in his half-time speech said: “What are you doing out there? Do not play weak! You play like homosexuals, like m! @ # $ A! We have to play harder in the second half! Show them that you are tough! ”

I would love to open my mouth. Saying that the gay on the team was the only one who had a good game until then and played hard. But I could not. The hardest part was that the whole team came up after this talk. Serious guys? Why is homosexuality related to weakness?

The other is an incident from a bus trip after an away game. For some reason gays were the topic of discussion for my group (not 3 × 3). I was almost asleep, my eyes closed, but I heard the conversation: “For me, homosexuality is a disease. They must be killed. Imagine having to play with someone like that on your team? ”

What would you do in this situation? Would you ask the guy to tell you what it is like to play with such a teammate? I was shocked. When I got home I could not sleep. At four in the morning I was sure I was done. I would not play anymore. But it was the shortest retreat of all time. Because I love this game so much, I would definitely hide who I really am for it. And would I give the ball to a person who openly believes I should commit suicide? Only if it is the last option to win a game. Three days later I returned to training.

One day I felt confident going out with my teammates. I wanted to explain everything and answer all their questions. Because in the end, we just had to go to the stadium. Privacy is something else. But that was the day I realized something. It is not your teammates who decide your future career. It is the coaches, the coaches and the teams that offer you contracts. So, there is always the fear of not getting a new contract because of your sexual orientation. That was the point that kept me going until today.

There were some great opportunities for me to reveal myself. At the end of the 2016-2017 season, I was crowned “top scorer” of the Swiss basketball league among all Swiss players. I was invited to a gala. Everyone was there, including the Minister of Sports. I had just fallen in love with my boyfriend and everything went so well. So far I have been asked what my “+1” would be at the ceremony. And there I would walk the red carpet with my friend. The next day, all the Swiss newspapers would write: “Switzerland’s top scorer is gay”.

Of course, I ended up going alone.

All these situations. All nights without sleep. All these moments of fear and self-doubt led to this. It’s time to enjoy the rest of my career without having to live a double life or hide my true self. And I hope to help other gay athletes in Switzerland and around the world. Nothing changes if after a big win, a player hugs his girlfriend or boyfriend.

In my opinion, an athlete can only perform at the highest level if he has made peace with himself. And from today, I will have done.

My name is Marco Lehmann, a 3 × 3 basketball player and gay.

Forgive me now, I’m trying to win a World Tour and lead Switzerland to the 2024 ″ Olympics.

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