(? - living) U.S.A.
Crosby, a Southern California native, played water polo for Harvard. Mike has been playing water polo for eight years, since his freshman year in high school. After swimming for many years as a child, he was recruited by the water polo coach at Harvard Westlake High School in North Hollywood, California, where his body type and skills lent themselves to the position of "driver," which is similar to a forward in basketball. After Harvard Westlake, the Harvard of the East Coast came calling.
"I'm the only openly gay male varsity athlete at Harvard," says Crosby. Throughout high school, Mike delicately balanced water polo with his emerging homosexuality. Being a teenage boy attracted to other boys, and playing a sport where they are all wearing Speedos, could not be easy.
Mike first told someone he was gay when he was a senior in high school. Once he went to Harvard University, it took him all of six months to start telling his friends there. However, he didn't address it with his varsity water polo team until late in his sophomore year. He started by telling a few close teammates and, with the positive responses he got from them, he built the confidence to tell the entire team.
The reaction from both coaches and players was incredibly supportive. Jim Floerchinger, Harvard's head water polo coach, attributes that to a couple things. First, he was at Harvard where intellectual curiosity is the order of the day. And, despite a conservative reputation, the school is dominated by open-minded education. Second was who Mike was as a player - one of the toughest, most competitive guys on the team. For a coach and a team dead set on winning, toughness and competitiveness weighed far heavier than a player's sexuality.
In fact, Mike's sexuality was so much of a non-issue for the team that they voted him co-captain a year later. As co-captain, Mike lead his team to a 26-10 record, the best in Harvard's history, an end-of-season national ranking of #15, and an amazing 4-0 record against California schools. To give perspective, in the final collegiate water polo ranking this year, every school in the Top 10 was based in California.
With last summer off, back home with his parents in Pacific Palisades, California, Mike wanted to try something a little different to stay in shape: play with a gay water polo team. He had heard about the Gay Games, and was looking for a team to play with at the Games in Sydney. Mike contacted West Hollywood's water polo team, WH2O, and began practicing with them. In July, he went with them to the International Gay and Lesbian Aquatics (IGLA) Championships in Toronto, Ontario. There, he played on the WH2O B-Team and ended the tournament in fifth place.
As Mike prepares to graduate from Harvard in June with a B.S. in Biology, he is looking forward to continuing to play water polo while having an impact on society's stereotypical perceptions of gay men. He is presently considering volunteer work, coaching and teaching. He also hopes to continue to play water polo with a gay team long after he graduates, and still has his heart set on making the trip to the Gay Games in Sydney next November.
Photos by Alan Purcell