Pride Voices | Will Sheridan
In honor of the 51st anniversary of the Stonewall riots, which set off the LGBTQ movement, we share stories from members of the Philadelphia LGBTQ+ community, who continue the movement through their advocacy, visibility and activism.
Former Villanova Basketball player
In Will’s words:
If you go back and look at the progression of Coach Wright’s winning and having an impact on Villanova, we were right at the beginning of it. My freshman year, we went to the NIT, we weren’t even concerned about individuals on the team. We were just trying to be the best team. I was really locked into being the greatest basketball player I could be, just to make that team as good as possible. I was really distracted my freshman year, and after my freshman year, I came out to my parents, and I became a better player. I became a better person. Everything got better.
My mom [did] a 180. She was just not on board right away. She went from being my best friend, my biggest fan to being my hugest critic and a detractor from someone who was so in my corner. It took me so long to get to a certain place to being comfortable with myself that I had to allow my parents some time to really adjust to their son being fearless. I think that’s such a beautiful thing because she’s a generation ahead of me and much older and came from a different world. She’s also bi-racial so she had this whole experience of having a white mother and a black father and it was just like, “[She] went through so much discrimination, how are you going to discriminate against me?” And something just clicked and thank god we’re in the place we are now. She calls me when TV shows have parents who are mean to their kids and then all of a sudden they come around, and I’m like, “OK mom, that was so long ago.”
I came out on ESPN in 2011 […] Once I crossed that bridge, I never had to come out to anyone else again, and it made my life so much simpler. I really did it for other people. I met some people who were in the closet or struggling with their story, and they were reaching out to me because they knew my story personally. It was like I can reach way more people if I just tell my story, and then I don’t ever have to tell it again. It’s just good. I don’t have insecurities about my sexuality. If anything, my existence is political and radical, and I’m just excited to be alive and thriving. I’ve done music, I’ve done sports. Everything I’ve wanted to do, I did it.
Will’s hope for the next generation:
The thing I’ve always wanted to do is influence the next generation to not be insecure about who they are and their individuality. Pride is really important because it’s a month-long celebration of individuality, our history, whether it’s protesting or rioting. I just want people to live their lives and for positive role models in the LGBTQ community to be lifted up to a point where they are more visible. Visibility is so important, especially for the trans community. Just seeing more people on TV just changes everything and helps everybody’s perceptions.
Click the links below to read additional installments in our Pride Voices series.