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March 11, 2010

Gay lacrosse player looks to spark honest discussions



ONEONTA _ Andrew McIntosh aims to destroy doors on gay closets, and he started with his own.

Last year, as a newly appointed lacrosse team captain at SUNY Oneonta, McIntosh said he wrestled with suicidal thoughts until he decided to talk about being a gay man.

First, he told a close friend from high school and his sister. Since then, he told his coach, Dan Mahar, and fellow captains.

On Feb. 15, McIntosh told his teammates, the same day, an online gay sports community, published his article, ``College lacrosse player comes out to his team.’’

McIntosh, 22, of Putnam Valley, said he intended to answer individual questions when asked about his sexuality instead of telling the entire team, but then he realized teammates would be reading his essay.

``Being honest is very important to me,’’ McIntosh said, ``and I wanted them to hear it from me and not from anyone else.’’ Mahar said he is proud to say there has been no hint of negativity from players.

``The guys see Andrew as Andrew,’’ said Mahar, a 1997 SUNY Oneonta graduate in his third season as head coach of the lacrosse team. The State University College at Oneonta campus always has been welcoming in terms of services and resources, he said, but society has become more aware and understanding of homosexuals in the past 10 or 15 years.

Several lacrosse players agreed McIntosh’s revelation wasn’t a big deal.

``It didn’t really faze anybody,’’ Tom Kelly, 21, a SUNY Oneonta junior, said after the Red Dragons’ practice on the allweather field near Hunt Union on Tuesday. ``It’s not really looked at, `he’s homosexual,’ _ he’s our teammate. ... We’re still all very comfortable together.’’

Gay athletes speaking about their sexuality is ``a hot topic.’’ Mc- Intosh said he has noted some shocked reactions but no negative responses. His teammates and coach have been supportive, he said, and thoughts of suicide are gone.

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