Brick Memorial Wrestling State Champion Alec Donovan Comes Out as Gay
When visiting colleges, Brick Memorial senior wrestler Alec Donovan wanted schools to know the full person they were recruiting, not just the state champion on the mat.
On Monday, Donovan revealed publicly for the first time that he is gay in a story by OutSports, speaking about the depression and despair that nearly led him to commit suicide as a freshman and talking about his hope that his story could help other athletes in similar situations.
"I've done a lot of great things ever since I was suicidal," Donovan told OutSports. "But yeah, helping other people makes me most proud."
Donovan decided to frankly answer the question of his sexuality on a recent recruiting trip to Limestone College in South Carolina when another potential recruit asked him if he was bisexual and he told him he was gay. Donovan was coming off a senior season in which he finished 39-1 and won the NJSIAA title at 145 pounds.
"It's better that everybody knows anyway, so I don't end up on a team that doesn't want me for all of me,'' Donovan said.
Donovan also gave a harrowing account of growing up in Brick and regularly hearing anti-gay language from family, friends and fellow students, which drove him deep into depression.
"I felt like I was a piece of dirt,'' he told OutSports. "I was worthless."
He admitted that he planned to commit suicide as a freshman, even writing a note, but decided against it because he didn't want to let the wrestling team down in the middle of the season. A female friend then later convinced him to tear up the suicide note.
As a junior, he was in a hotel room in Atlantic City with several Brick Memorial teammates during the weekend of the NJSIAA Individual Wrestling Championships when they asked him if he was gay. He feared being attacked, but said he was. He told OutSports that instead one of his teammates responded, "I'm proud of you. We're brothers, and no matter what, brothers stick together."
Donovan now hopes his story can help others grappling with their sexuality or feeling bullied.