Join Prism Book Alliance® as Jeff Adams goes Outside the Margins today.
If your at all familiar with my books, you know I write about athletes a lot. Hat Trick and Rivals both have hockey players. Flipping for Him features parkour. Bicycle Built for Two has cyclists. Sometimes the athletes have to come out in these stories, and sometimes they’re already out and living comfortably. There’s definitely something about an athlete as a main character that I gravitate to, even if the athlete side of the character isn’t a main element in the story.
Given that, it shouldn’t be a surprise that I picked up a copy of Jeff Sheng’s new book Fearless: Portraits of LGBT Student Athletes. The book came out at the end of June and I was excited to get mine in the mail a few days after that.
The coffee table book covers Sheng’s upbringing, including his time as a closeted student athlete in the late 90s. This includes the heartbreaking revelation that he left his high school tennis team in his senior year because “I believed that being openly gay and being a competitive athlete were incompatible with each other.” He also details his eventual coming out and how his first boyfriend became the inspiration for the photographic series that would become Fearless.
It’s fascinating reading how what he began as a teaching assistant at Harvard grew into an exhibit that toured colleges around the country and eventually into this wonderful book. As compelling as Sheng’s story is, both his personal one and the creation of Fearless, it’s the photos that take center stage. Also included are essays from five selected athletes, providing a representative cross section of life experiences.
One of the reasons I find this to be such an important book is emphasized in the essay by Matt Dooley, a Notre Dame tennis player who tried to take his life as a sophomore. “I had made myself alone all out of fear.” Luckily his story had a happy ending: “There are others just like me, combatting the same fear of abandonment and worthlessness every single day. Not all of them are as fortune as I to have a friend or teammate catch them before it’s too late.”
Even with all the progress made in marriage equality this year and even though there’s an organization like You Can Play that works to abolish homophobia in sports there are still young people out there who can’t find much needed role models. The Fearless book gives a couple hundred examples of athletes who are living as their authentic selves. That’s so important since there are so many “authority figures” who seek to make LGBTQ people feel second class, or worse.
Even if this book isn’t something you’d want to read and own, I encourage you to perhaps purchase one for your local library. We I ordered mine, I also got one for a friend who manages a PFLAG library. Another friend of mine got a copy for himself, and one for the library at the school where he teaches.
If you’d like to know even more about the Fearless project, I’m scheduled to interview Jeff Sheng tomorrow (Tuesday, July 28) on YA Yay! on the Writer’s Online Network. The show will air live at 6:30pm ET / 3:30pm PT and you can listen to a replay anytime after that. You can find the link to the episode on the YA Yay! page.
Before I wrap up, I have to give a shout-out to You Can Play. Earlier this month the organization was named the first winner of the Stuart Scott ENSPIRE Award, which was given out during ESPN’s inaugural Sports Humanitarian of the Year Awards. In his acceptance speech, Patrick Burke, YCP’s president and founder (and also a director in the NHL Department of Player Safety and former scout for the Philadelphia Flyers), said, “We are relentlessly devoted to ensuring that no LGBT athlete ever again has to choose between what they love and who they love. I sincerely hope you’ll join us in our fight.”
I’m proud to support YCP as they keep tearing down barriers for LGBT athletes. Since Hat Trick came out in 2013, I’ve donated one dollar from each book sale to YCP and I’ll keep doing that until they don’t have to exist anymore.
About Jeff Adams
Jeff Adams is the author of the Hat Trick series of young adult/new adult stories. He’s also the author of several m/m romance shorts. Jeff and his husband, Will, live in the rural peace of Northern California. Besides writing about hockey in many of his stories, he covers the Detroit Red Wings, and reviews books that feature gay hockey players, for PuckBuddys.com (http://www.PuckBuddys.com). You can learn all about Jeff’s writing at jeffadamswrites.com (http://www.jeffadamswrites.com/). You can also follow him on Twitter @hockeyguynyc https://twitter.com/hockeyguynyc). and sign up for his email list (http://eepurl.com/7TJC9) to get the latest updates.
I have a number of paperbacks, most of which are signed, to giveaway. Over the between now (11 Mar 2017) and 31 Mar 2017, every comment on the blog (this post and all other new posts), will be entered to win 1 of these paperbacks. There are also some misc swag items, so there will be a few packs of these to give away as well.
Thank you so much for your support over the last 4 years. Prism will be closing its doors on 1 April 2017. All content will remain available, but no new content will appear after 31 Mar 2017. As such all request forms have been turned off. Again Thank you,
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