Men's Health (USA)

ANTHONY TAMEZ-POCHEL wasn’t even a teenager yet when he knew his life’s purpose. He just needed a little help from his brother . . . and the city of Chicago.

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IN JANUARY 2013, about 2,000 people, many of them Native American teenagers, staged a protest outside a courthouse in downtown Chicago. In the crowd was 12-year-old Anthony Tamez-Pochel. Amid flags and signs, drumbeats and chants, TamezPoche­l began to understand.

He grew up in Albany Park, in northwest Chicago, with his mother and many of his other family members protesting for Native American rights and against unethical search and seizure, the loss of Native land, and job discrimina­tion. Nearly one in four Native Americans now lives in poverty, the U. S. Census Bureau reports, which is higher than the national average, and about one in ten Native American adults admits having substance-abuse issues. Suicide remains the

the Supreme Court legalized same-sex marriage, and this year it banned LGBTQ discrimina­tion in the workplace. More than half of Gen Z doesn’t identify as heterosexu­al, according to a recent poll by YouGov.

Despite what seems like a lot of progress, however, Bain was still a Missouri high school football player about to come out. When he was finished speaking, the crowd gave him a standing ovation. “It was me finally letting so much weight off my shoulders that I had been carrying for so long,” he says.

In the fall of 2018, Bain matriculat­ed at Indiana State University to play football, becoming one of the first openly gay Division I team athletes in history. Still, he was struggling emotionall­y on two fronts: He’d recently lost a childhood friend and he’d begun to further question his sexuality.

Bain says the death of his friend made him prioritize people and things that weren’t football: “I needed to take a step, get my feet settled, and figure out what it was exactly I wanted to do.”

So in 2019, he quit football. He transferre­d to North Carolina State University.

In an Instagram post a month later, he decided to come out—again. “I have come to realize that my sexual orientatio­n is truly a spectrum,” he wrote. Bain stated that he was pansexual, meaning a person who’s not attracted to just one gender.

Today he’s studying to become a sports psychologi­st. He wants to help other young athletes find clarity and maybe answer some of his own questions about his identity.

“I certainly miss football sometimes,” he says. “I feel more at peace and I definitely am happier than I was a year ago.”

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