Former American College Basketball player, Will Sheridan, shares coming out on ESPN live and the importance of queer athlete visibility. The Brooklyn native discusses being a Hip Hop artist, queer references in his lyrics and his forthcoming projects.
YOUTH and ROLEMODELS
How was your youth, did you have a role model growing up?
I was totally an awkward kid. I had a 6 inch growth spurt in 6th grade that changed a lot. I went from a chubby queerish kid to a stud that everyone wanted to play basketball, so I made I bunch of new friends.
Do you remember your first crush?
My childhood best friend was my first sexual partner and I thought he was my boyfriend until he started dating the prettiest girl in our neighborhood. I remember being completely enamored with the all state big man on my high school basketball team freshman year Josh Hill. He passed in college so Rest In Peace to him and his memory. I just remember writing him a letter and he kindly read it and as a good friend use discretion while telling me that I should talk to an adult about my feelings.
As an athlete did you feel somewhat protected from homophobic slurs and how was your relationship with queer culture growing up?
I never really felt like an athlete on the inside. Though I do think sports exposed character in me that may have not manifested if I didn’t play. I definitely wasn’t protected from slurs, if anything… being an athlete exposed me to the nastiest of the nastiest comments during sporting events. It never really bothered me. I was more concerned with my family in the stands hearing me being taunted. As far as my relationship with queer culture. I was so far removed that I felt alone and far from empowered. I had no role models that I identified; hence, I created my G.I.A.N.T brand to encourage me to be my authentic self with no fear and represent a lighthouse for other lost in this world.
What advice would you give your adolescent self?
Be YOU and try to be great at everything and everything will happen for you.
A quote to describe your outlook on life?
Going In And Never Timid – if you’re big enough to be who you are, you’re GIANT.
BASKETBALL, ACTIVISM and ARTISTRY
How does your experience as an activist and an athlete influence your work as a Hip Hop artist?
Sports is about the best players playing so it kind of perplexes me that I’m not held in a higher esteem as one of the best queer hip hop artist, but I have to just keep working and pushing and someone will recognize my body of art eventually. As an activist it’s my duty to continue to write out my / OUR narrative so that it will be cemented in history that we are HERE.
You came out on ESPN, becoming the second Division I player to do so. The power of being an openly gay athlete is undeniable. Can you tell us about the importance of visibility and what challenges athletes today might be facing and how can the fans and the queer community help?
Gay athlete visibility is imperative. My big thing with gay athletes is that they have to continue to work twice as hard and be even better than our non gay counterparts because in sports no one gets any free passes for being ” anything”. You are either good or not. Gay athletes should aspire to be GREAT, there’s no question. I really hate the idea of gay athletes creating this narrative of not making it professionally because they are gay. I think that’s lame! Just be the best then there’s no question.
As a member of numerous minorities, what are some of the biggest challenges you face?
They are pretty obvious to me. With my art, I am a gay black Hip Hop artist. I’ve found that gays don’t generally like Hip Hop and then the ones that tolerate rap don’t get the culture of rap lyrics. So most gays are shocked that I rap about sex in addition to other topics. My audience is limited from the beginning, so I constantly challenge myself to make my song topics broader and my music undeniably great so there’s no excuse to not listen.
What exercises do you incorporate into your life to maintain your physical and mental health?
My life is set about energy first and foremost, so I try to get 100 minutes of cardio a week – I generally fail but that’s my goal. To do high energy workouts to keep my wind up and my energy level on the highest level. This also affects my mental health. Working out undeniably makes me happier.
Your Go-To tracks for exercising?
Anything by MikeQ, LSDXOXO, Byrell the Great or Baltimore / Philly / Jersey music.
“I never really felt like an athlete on the inside. Though I do think sports exposed character in me that may have not manifested if I didn’t play. I definitely wasn’t protected from slurs, if anything… being an athlete exposed me the nastiest of the nastiest comments during sporting events.”
What have you learnt about yourself this year?
At the end of 2016, I ruptured my achilles which took me out of work and I couldn’t perform or workout. Then my father passed away the next month while I was touring in France. I can do anything in the face of adversity with the right attitude.
Are there any young artists, athletes or activists that excite you for the future?
I’m really excited about the young artists in my camp, Jae Neal, a dancer choreographer; Eddie Wayne, a singer / rapper and Pan Dulce, a model. They are all part of #GIANTGANG and like me have been chasing their dreams with a fearless, uncompromising attitude.
Fitness goals for 2018?
Just go to the gym and accept whatever my body form is… I love my flaws, but I could be a little more healthy. Obviously I work in nightlife so less alcohol and smoking.
Do you have any future projects that you’re currently working on?
I have two singles dropping, “Do You Have Any” and “Mystic Data” with a remix album in the first quarter on Royal Advisor Records. After that I’m dropping my 3rd LP, Tentatively titled Allegiant, the last of the GIANT albums.
What would you graffiti on the back of a toilet door?
# GIANT FOREVER