An open letter to my locker room

Ethan Widra, Georgetown Day '18

Widra writes about the controversial environment the locker room provides him as both a student athlete and a member of the LGBTQ+ community. (Published: 2018)

Dear Locker Room,

I’m a “student athlete,” which means you’re supposedly my second home. I am also LGBTQ+ with an emphasis on the B, which means you’re supposedly my worst enemy. From day one, I’ve been trying to reconcile this ever-so-awkward position you’ve put me in; between the masculinity that is presented by my very existence in there and the one that I feel to be true to myself. Inside, I have a sense of myself shaped by the people I choose to hold close to myself. And then there’s the ugly side. The side that I’ve shoved down under all of my little caveats and gender studies classes and LGBT leadership positions. And that part is what manifests in you. You drag the worst parts of masculinity to the surface, and nobody is safe from your pull. And to top it all off? You’re so hard to pin down – to call out and to attack, because once you’ve latched onto those ugly parts, you refuse to let go until you’re left behind as the glorified room you are.

Some days that we interact are better than others; an empty room to change in or a shower if I need it. But the other days? You’re the site of every joke about someone being “fruity” or “soft”– just because those queer kids aren’t ready to take yet another hit from trying to, and inevitably being humiliated for trying to stand up to some straight kid in the vulnerability of what should just be a changing room. I’ve watched kids stay in the closet for years after they realized themselves because of what happens in you, because they know that the best case scenario is they get heckled behind their backs. I’ve seen LGBT kids have their bodies scrutinized in public for their expression of their identities, and then in your supposed privacy, have all of that reinforced by the company you keep. Your walls are the same ones I put up around my identity, and you bring out only the worst in people. You, you rank locker room, taught me to move through the world as a victim, an insult waiting to happen, and someone who does not belong, whose very existence is incompatible with what you should be representing and the services you provide.

Ethan Widra