Lauren Neidigh
Courtesy of: Lauren Neidigh
TUCSON, Arizona, July 12. THOUGH much of the conversation regarding gay athletes has focused on professional football and basketball lately, swimming also has its share of out athletes. In the past 12 months, more than a dozen swimmers and divers have publicly come out as gay to their teams and have been met with overwhelming support.

Lauren Neidigh came out to her teammates at the University of Arizona last winter, and wrote an essay about that experience for Outsports.com. Since then, she has been an outspoken advocate of equality and anti-harassment in sports, attending a conference in Oregon last month with other openly gay athletes who came out in Outsports.

Today in Tucson, the same day that news broke of an interview in which Ian Thorpe came out as gay, she took the next step in promoting tolerance in sports. Neidigh and five other Wildcats -- Emma Schoettmer, Taylor Schick, Elizabeth Pepper, Bonnie Brandon and Sara Borendame -- posed for a photo on the deck of the Hillenbrand Aquatic Center holding signs that spelled "NO HATE."




"The picture represents acceptance of all people in sport, regardless of their gender, race, or sexuality," Neidigh said. "It's just a small way of letting people know that they will be respected for who they are and that they have nothing to be afraid of. I had my teammates take this picture with me as a way of showing support for all athletes. Not everyone has to agree with everyone else's opinions and lifestyle choices, but that doesn't mean that people have to be hateful in their disagreements.

"My teammates have been very supportive of me since I came out and it has improved my overall experience with swimming. It would be great if other teams could follow and take a picture like this to show support for equality in swimming and all sports."

Neidigh, a distance freestyler and butterflyer, will be a senior at Arizona this fall.