When people find out that I played sports in high school, the conversation many times turns into something about it being really "hot" or some kind of fantasy to be a gay man in a locker room in high school. The truth? It was hell.
Don't get me wrong, I loved playing sports in high school. I think it made me who I am in many ways. Sports were involved in multiple aspects of my life. I have multiple members of my family that are coaches: My dad, brother, and uncle, plus many coaches that were like family to me. No, my life growing up was not like friday night lights, nor was the time that I spent in the locker room like some kind of ongoing gay porn.
So how did I handle the showers, changing, sweat and mud? Like a baby dear, lol. I was scared, no lie. I wouldn't look at other guys because I had this huge fear of something happening, to where people would know that I was gay. I know people could sense my shyness, but I think it came across as issues with people seeing my body (in many ways it was), so they picked on me. I don't blame for it; it's a part of the culture. I was the guy that was scared to brush up against another guy, or stand to close to one, or rough house in the shower and I was fun to joke around with. My junior year there was a guy (whom I happened to have a crush on) that would slap or pinch my butt almost every day, and tell me that I was cute or something because he knew that it made me uncomfortable. He's straight as an arrow; I still know him; he's still straight; that wasn't the issue. I would just blush or avoid him, laughing awkwardly. I got use to it, and it decreased, but this experience sums up many locker room experiences. I used to wonder if I had messed myself up somehow, by suppressing my attraction so much. What happens if you actively work to keep yourself from being attracted to someone. It didn't make me straight, but I used to worry that it gave me some kind of affection trauma or something. I think I had some internal oppression going on, but things are better, now.
I still love working out, and I still change in the locker rooms, but things haven't changed. I'm still scared to look at other guys, both because I don't want them/me to be uncomfortable, but also because I know by boyfriend would hate it. Usually I find some empty corner or stall and to do my clark kent/superman routine. I love the few gender-neutral facilities that I can find. I use them every chance that I get. They're like a physical oxymoron- a safe place locker room. I would have appreciated them in HS, too. Even if I was just that shy straight boy. It's nice to feel comfortable when have to shower.