Abrahm DeVine, the Pac-12 swimmer of the year in 2018 and a two-time member of the U.S. national team at the world championships, said in an Instagram post this week that he had been kicked off the team at Stanford because he is gay.

“Plain and simple: there are surface reasons I was kicked off the Stanford swim team, but I can tell you with certainty that it comes down to the fact that I am gay,” he wrote.

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As many of you know, I’m an openly gay swimmer and I am the only one at my level. I want to use this post to call out some of the homophobia that I’ve experienced being an athlete, and encourage everyone to be thoughtful and intentional about changing some of the homophobic aspects of the athletic culture that exists today. While I have many specific examples of micro aggressions and outright aggressions that I’ve experienced, homophobia is ultimately much more than an accumulation of experiences. In fact, it is a denial of experience. While I feel like I’ve tried to convey this to many people, many of whom deny any possibility that they contribute it, I’ve started to ask myself: Why is it my job to educate coaches and athletes at the most resourceful university in the world? I cannot continue to try to engage people in this conversation when there is so much fragility to obscure my humanity and character, so much rhetoric to keep me silent. Everyone says they support me, and yet, for the millionth time, I am the only one speaking up. To my coaches who sport the pride flag on their desk, to the athletes who liked my pride photo on Instagram, I need you to wake up to what’s happening around you. How can you say you support me and my equality? How can you not see how Stanford Swim has treated me and used me over the last 4 years? Am I invisible? Plain and simple: there are surface level reasons I was kicked off the Stanford swim team, but I can tell you with certainty that it comes down to the fact that I am gay. This is a pattern. Homophobia is systematic, intelligently and masterfully designed to keep me silent and to push me out. I am a talented, successful, educated, proud, gay man: I am a threat to the culture that holds sports teams together. I want something to change, because I can’t take it anymore. My story is not unique. There are queer voices everywhere and all you have to do is listen. I am asking, begging for some sort of action. If you are reading this, this post is for you! Gay or straight, swimmer or not. None of us are exempt from homophobia. It is your civil duty to educate yourself. If you choose not to, it is at my expense.

A post shared by Abrahm DeVine (@abrahmdevine) on

In a statement attributed in separate media outlets to both Stanford assistant athletic director Brian Risso and Cardinal swimming coaches Greg Meehan and Dan Schemmel, the school confirmed DeVine no longer was on the team but said his sexuality had nothing to do with it.

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“It is truly unfortunate Abe feels this way,” the statement read. “That said, Abe wasn’t invited back to train with us this fall, as a postgraduate, for reasons entirely unrelated to his sexuality. We take pride in the inclusivity and supportiveness that exists on both our men’s and women’s teams, but we will continue to strive, as always, to improve those aspects of our culture.”

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SwimSwam reported that DeVine had been training at the school as a professional after graduating in June. In August, about a month after competing at the world championships in South Korea, he joined Team Elite Aquatics in San Diego.

DeVine came out as gay in a September 2018 interview with Swimming World, describing his teammates as supportive when he told them.

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“I remember that being a pretty emotional time, and just feeling my whole team wrap around me and feeling that love in a place where I hadn’t really felt it, that was definitely pretty special for me,” DeVine said in that interview. “Just seeing them kind of prove me wrong was definitely special, something I’ll never forget.”

But in an Instagram story he posted after his initial accusation, DeVine said he now felt differently.

“Coaches trying to intimidate me, friends turning their backs, cis straight white men trying to deny something they dont want to understand,” he wrote in one, an image of which can be seen at SwimSwam. “History is repeating itself in front of me and its sad to see. But I cannot allow this to stop me for standing up for what is right.”

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In another Instagram story, Devine denied that he was trying to use his sexuality as leverage.

“Finally: I am going to address the accusation that I am using my sexuality flippantly or that I am ‘playing a card’ to my advantage,” he wrote. “F--- that! I am way too proud.”

DeVine, 23, finished 10th in the 200-meter individual medley at the 2017 world championships and eighth in the same event at this year’s world championships. According to his Instagram, he received an undergraduate computer science degree from Stanford in June.

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