Meet the South Dakota swimmer who pushed back against homophobia to become Homecoming King

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09/12/2020

Meet Josh Sorbe, the 23-year-old swimming champion for the University of South Dakota. Sorbe captained the school’s Division 1 swim team his senior year, leading the men’s team to a second-place finish in the Summit League Conference. In a new essay for OutSports, Sorbe reveals that he once thought such a success would not be possible for him. The reason: he’s openly gay. “I love South Dakota,” Sorbe writes. “Often, rural Americans are stereotyped to be roadblocks to inclusion. The people are generally kind, caring and community-minded. They fight for one another, but the stereotype of the intolerant few can manifest itself as the reality of the many in the minds of closeted LGBTQ+ rural Americans.” Sorbe goes on to recall his struggles with adolescent depression and anxiety as a result of living in the closet. He also reveals that he endured considerable harassment at the hands of his classmates for his effeminacy. Worse, when he reported the bullies, the school refused to take action. For Sorbe, however, that setback proved a turning point.

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