Southridge grad becomes first active college athlete to come out

TRI-CITIES, Wash. -- A former Southridge student is making waves on social media, Conner Mertens became the first active openly bisexual at any level of college sports.

"It always was something I thought I would keep to myself, I didn't want to be seen differently," said Conner Mertens.

Conner Mertens doesn't remember not knowing he was bisexual, but he still hid it from his friends and family, not telling how he truly felt.
Conner has a strong Christian faith, he's a leader for Younglife and said he was tired of the lies.

"It just clicked in my head, I was being a huge hypocrite, telling people to be themselves, love others, and let others love them back, I was the biggest hypocrite not doing that," said Conner Mertens.

Conner is a Southridge High graduate, playing football and soccer for the school. Now a redshirt freshman kicker at Willamette College in Salem, he told his football team Monday morning. Moments afterward, he posted the news to Twitter using a photo of a statement he had written up. The statement was intended for the community, especially those who don't know him.

"I've heard from people saying it doesn't matter it's not news, and I agree with them, I look forward to the day that this isn't news, we're not there yet," said Conner Mertens.

Until then, it is very much news. Conner became the first active college athlete to come out as bisexual. ESPN and Yahoo! Sports were just a couple of the dozens of online sites that posted Conner's story. He didn't expect everyone to accept his choice, but he knew it was an announcement he had to make.

"The weight is completely gone, I have had this thing on my shoulders for as long as I can remember, it was dragging me down, making me feel less of a person," said Conner Mertens.

Conner's family has only known for a short while themselves. His parents didn't want to comment for this story. Conner is the youngest of four boys, his brother, Chandler, was one of the first people he told.

"We were just sitting down stairs, watching a movie, he randomly brought it up, 'Hey dude, I got something to tell you,'" said Chandler Mertens.

Conner didn't have to wonder how his brother would react.

"That takes guts and I can't put into words how proud I am to call him my brother," said Chandler Mertens.

Conner hopes his decision to come out may help others who are struggling.

"People don't feel like they can be themselves, like no one will love them," said Conner Mertens.

And that one day this won't be a headline at all.

"At the end of the day I'm just Conner, and I'm bisexual and that's just another part of me and I'm the same person I was yesterday, that I am today, if that makes you uncomfortable, I'm sorry I'm not sorry," said Conner Mertens.

Conner says that he has been contacted by some national organizations to help tell his story.