Abrahm DeVine Details Specific Mistreatment, References Punishments

U.S. National Team swimmer Abrahm DeVine took to social media again yesterday, detailing more specific mistreatment he says he faced as a member of the Stanford swim & dive program, and referencing punishments by USA Swimming and Stanford.

Background

DeVine has taken to social media several times in the past few weeks to publicly criticize his alma mater Stanford. DeVine first posted alleging that he’d been “kicked off the Stanford team” because he is gay. The school said that DeVine, who had already finished his NCAA eligibility, was not invited to train with the Stanford program as a postgraduate, and head women’s and men’s team coaches Greg Meehan and Dan Schemmel said in a joint statement that the decision had nothing to do with his sexuality.

In the ensuing media discussion, DeVine admitted to Stanford’s school newspaper that he had violated Team USA rules by drinking while at a Team USA meet, rather than being present at the meet – that appears to be one of the “surface level reasons” DeVine had referenced for he wasn’t allowed to remain at Stanford. But DeVine has maintained his claims that he’s been systematically mistreated within the Stanford program because of his sexual orientation.

Specific Allegations

DeVine returned to social media on Wednesday with another long post and a series of Instagram stories laying out more specific allegations against the Stanford program. There’s still some confusion about which coaching staffs DeVine is referencing: he swam his collegiate years under Ted Knappwho resigned last spring, but the men’s program is now headed by Schemmel, while the Stanford postgraduates (at this point, all women) appear to train under women’s head coach Meehan.

https://www.instagram.com/p/B3aPupqgH86/

Here’s the full text of that post:

(Yes, this was a whole photo shoot smh) Reflection on the last week: First and foremost, I have some amazing friends and I can’t believe how lucky I am to have them. Never felt more grateful. To push my message forward, I am now working with Stanford Athletics. Before this issue leaves my page, there are a few things I want to address:

1. Why is it that so many gay people resonate with this message? Isn’t that alarming? And why are so many (mostly, but not entirely) straight people so quick to dismiss it? This is part of what I touched on when I said ‘denial of experience’. All around us gay kids are quitting their sports teams, they are committing suicide, and they are hiding their core identity from the world. We cannot deny that something is going on in a world where ‘being gay doesn’t matter.’
2. Homophobia is generally understood as an intentional and directed act. If that is your definition, I do not know how to engage you in any sort of meaningful conversation around this issue. I am not a dictionary. We all need to have a shared and elevated vocabulary in order to tackle complex problems. Homophobia is systematic. Period.
3. The ‘surface level reasons’ I was referring to involved me drinking and breaking the rules of Team USA. I never meant to deny this or cover this up. On the subject of a systematic discrimination, it is juvenile to focus the conversation on the ethics of a 22 year old getting drunk. A more apt focus might be on why the only gay kid on the team sees no value in the honor code. And, when there are many athletes breaking it every year, why am I the only one being punished by both USA Swimming and Stanford Swimming?
4. To any gay kids reading this, I am sorry. I have always tried to portray a positive image, one where I am included. In reality, I have struggled to justify my participation in swimming for the last two years. I hate to spread this message, but it is my reality. However, being gay is an overwhelmingly amazing experience. It has revealed to me a hidden and beautiful world, so much love, a diverse perspective, and has given me strength beyond what most people can see. Don’t let the bs stop you from being proud of who u r❤️

DeVine followed up with a series of Instagram stories:

Among the specific allegations:

  • That USA Swimming punished DeVine for drinking at a Team USA event. (DeVine was a member of the World Championships team this past summer). We’ve asked USA Swimming about the alleged punishment, but have not yet received a response. In his full post, DeVine also references Stanford punishing him, and we’ve asked the program about that.
  • That two “straight white males” can “judge the shit out of me, force me to defer my graduation an entire year and cost me at least $15,000”
  • That while swimming at Stanford, DeVine was “called a fag, harrassed, publicly humiliated, outed without my consent, was sexually accosted under the assumption I would like it, treated like garbage.”

We’ve reached out to DeVine, Stanford and USA Swimming about the allegations, but have not yet received responses, outside of Stanford’s previous statement from Meehan and Schemmel.

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GAYD1SWIMMER
2 years ago

I totally understand and have had similar experiences being an openly gay division 1 swimmer at two universities. Sexual harassment, exploitation, and homophobia (especially micro aggressions) have been a huge cloud over my college career. I, and other teammates, have been expected to keep quiet for recruiting purposes. He is SO RIGHT to emphasize that this is a systemic issue. That means that more stories like this from influential people in this sport need to be shared. THIS IS A PROBLEM that has impacted a lot of athletes…ironically it seems as though the swim culture cultivates homophobia. That is just my opinion – I have heard Ivy leagues have a very different vibe

DutchWomen
2 years ago

BIG “next” on this nonsense. If you feel discriminated against at STANFORD in the BAY AREA for being gay, there’s no hope for you. There’s no more welcoming place for gay men in the entire country. If you’re gay and can’t make it at Stanford…that’s on you, it’s not about being gay. NEXT.

Meeeeee
2 years ago

Wasn’t there and only know what i am reading from Abraham Devine. But to me it is apparent he is deflecting for his drinking problem and the major life crisis it has caused him. His actions and words over the past 4 years at Stanford do not support what he is now claiming.

SWISHER
2 years ago

Why so black and white? Could it be that Abrahm needs to be more self-critical and take responsibility for his mistakes, AND that homophobia is a massive problem, and a big factor both with regard to his actions, and how he’s currently handling this situation?

The ratios on this comment thread are a bit striking to me. Seems like it’s more popular to criticize an individual, than to be vocal against homophobia. Would those railing on Abrahm and upvoting the critical comments be as quick and vocal on the larger issue of homophobia? Would an article entitled “homophobia is prevalent and persistent in the swimming community” be getting the same attention? Would the backlash against homophobia be as strong as… Read more »

Becky D
Reply to  SWISHER
2 years ago

I would welcome a discussion of real, tangible instances of homophobia — if nothing more than to move beyond waving our hands in the air. I think we can all agree that “homophobia = BAD.” But what exactly does that mean? I, for one, take umbrage at the accusation of homophobia, but I remain open to the idea that there may be things that I say that could be troubling to others, in spite of my good intentions. Let’s discuss what those things are, rather than virtue signal.

But even after a thoughtful discussion of being more tolerant of other people, I maintain the right to dislike a person’s attitude and behavior, in spite of their sexual orientation.

KLLRWHLE79
Reply to  Becky D
2 years ago

I wish I could upvote this more. Very well said.

SWISHER
Reply to  Becky D
2 years ago

I mean, I agree with talking about concrete instances, though I also “take umbrage” if your accusation of virtue signaling was directed at me. I can think of numerous real, tangible instances of homophobic language being used within my own team when I was a college swimmer. Flat out slurs, or words like gay or homo being used in a derogatory way. Come to think of it, misogynistic language and culture was even more prevalent. Our team got in real trouble once over some misogynistic emails that were circulating among the men’s team. Another time, some swimmers started a group called COCKS, the Coalition Opposing C*nted K*** Swimmers, just for fun. COCKS t-shirts were made. These are real, persistent problems… Read more »

Becky D
Reply to  SWISHER
2 years ago

Thanks for the examples – honestly. That’s what I needed to see.

Although my college swimming experience was way back in the 20th century, I don’t recall anything that toxic. And due to class conflicts, I trained with the men’s team on occasion. Heaven knows the prevailing attitudes of society were not nearly as LGBT-friendly as now.

Where do we go from here?

oldswimguy
Reply to  Becky D
2 years ago

Trust me, I swam collegiately in the 1970s, and by today’s standards we were more than a toxic culture. But, having said that, one of the most popular swimmers was gay, not out, but everyone with a brain knew. Did that stop us from making constant anti-gay references as a team? No. Did he feel good about it? No. Did he recover? Yes. Is he the same great guy I remember from then? Yes.

Having said that, there is a part of this that seems to be left out. Male culture is competitive. So competitive, that everything can be used to needle/injure your teammates. Yes, a lot of misogamy, homophobic comments. But, take it from me, a straight white male,… Read more »

SwimFan49
2 years ago

I thought the comment was so peculiar because HE is that 22-year old just a couple of months removed from getting drunk. I mean, it’s something a 40-year old or more would say when trying to cut a kid some slack — “hey, remember what it was like to be 22 and go out getting drunk.” AD says it like he’s had decades of experience since then and acknowledges that 22 year old can do dumb things.

Dave
2 years ago

I’m certain that it’s difficult to be a gay man in sports… but the over the top martyrdom and teenage angst-ridden self-obsession Devine is laying on thickly here is absolutely eye-rolling. I get it, he’s 23. I’ve been fortunate in that my similar behavior at that age occurred before it could be digitally shouted to the rooftops and then captured and preserved for all time. In 15 years, I hope this doesn’t cause you to cringe, Abe.

ugh
2 years ago

As another gay, albeit female, d1 athlete at a large conference school, come on…this is a very misguided attempt to bring awareness to LGBT+ issues in high level athletics. Yes there is rampant homophobia, but this isn’t the best way to approach it at all. There are two very different issues at play here, and it’s not really a platform for discussing both. That being said, it’s very much time for open dialogue about queer experience in ncaa sports, and I would love to see an article that delves into that.

spectatorn
Reply to  ugh
2 years ago

agree the bigger issue – rampant homophobia and queer experience in NCAA sports – need to be discuss and in open dialogue. From your perspective and experience, what would be a better platform for discussing the issue? Honestly want to know your opinion.

Just a thought – I think a swimmer in similar situation (D1 large conference school) has a better understanding of the situation and AD may value your suggestions more. Maybe it will be better if you can reach out to him in DM and chat?

Ugh
Reply to  spectatorn
2 years ago

Oh I definitely think social media is a viable platform for some discussion, but I think the way things played out in Abrahm’s situation (ie the drinking and initiation lack of full disclosure and extended Instagram saga) detracted from his goal of brining light to homophobia in ncaa sports as a whole. I don’t think I have much to bring to the table when it comes to direct instances homophobia – female ncaa culture is so different imo. There’s definitely a don’t ask don’t tell vibe among gay girls in across all sports, yet all the gay girls know who also swings their way, it’s just not talked about (even when there are obvious couples). There is no outward expression… Read more »

Leavingonthetop
2 years ago

How can people be so focused and upset he didn’t cheer on his teammates? Who cares. High caliber swimmers at worlds are not focused on who is cheering for them.

Maybe he wasn’t invited to train due to other issues. But seems valid that there is double standard and apparent he was subject to homophobia. Stanford should investigate further.

Most importantly, the underlying issue is this is a common problem within swim teams. Administration, coaches, and swimmers need to be solution focused; more teams need to promote inclusivity regardless of sexual orientation, race, etc. Zero tolerance.

Lastly, he’s making a statement for all other LGBTQ swimmers who have been subject to same experience. If you think homophobia isn’t… Read more »

About Jared Anderson

Jared Anderson

Jared Anderson swam for nearly twenty years. Then, Jared Anderson stopped swimming and started writing about swimming. He's not sick of swimming yet. Swimming might be sick of him, though. Jared was a YMCA and high school swimmer in northern Minnesota, and spent his college years swimming breaststroke and occasionally pretending …

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