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Support grows for gay college athletes; 'Easier every day,' says former Georgia goalie Joey Fisher

BY MARC WEISZER, THE ATHENS BANNER-HERALD

ATHENS, Ga. -- Seven years before NBA player Jason Collins made news as the first active male professional athlete in a major team sport to reveal publicly he was gay, Joey Fisher's teammates learned about his sexual orientation.

The goalie on Georgia's club ice hockey team first told a couple of members of the squad personally and then made an update on his Facebook page that indicated he was gay. Then he went to talk to his coach about it.

"It's kind of unreal how different it is and how much easier it is," Fisher said. "It certainly is difficult on an individual level, but on a societal level, we've seen a sea change of acceptance. ... It's absolutely getting easier every day."

Fisher waited until his junior season to come out to the team because he said he didn't know how his coaches or the players would react and didn't want to risk how it might impact his playing time, but felt by then he had enough standing with the team.

"They knew me as an individual," said Fisher, who until recently was a University of Georgia systems administrator and who now works for a web-based company in San Antonio. "They didn't know me as the gay guy. They knew me as Joey."

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