Abrahm DeVine's claims were denied by the swim team's coaches, who said he was not invited back to the team for unrelated reasons
A former swimmer at Stanford University has accused the school of homophobia, claiming he was booted from the swim team for being gay.
Abrahm DeVine aired his grievances with the team in a lengthy Instagram post on Monday that implied he was treated poorly and “used” during his four years swimming at Stanford.
“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,” he wrote. “This is a pattern. Homophobia is systematic, intelligently and masterfully designed to keep me silent and to push me out.”
In his post, DeVine, who graduated from the university in June, lamented that he found it was his “job” to educate his coaches and fellow athletes at the school on his experiences, and that he seemed to be the sole voice speaking out.
“Everyone says they support me, and yet, for the millionth time, I am the only one speaking up,” he wrote. “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?”
Greg Meehan and Dan Schemmel, the coaches of the Stanford men’s and women’s swim team, confirmed that DeVine was not “invited back” to train with the team this year, but denied that it had anything to do with his sexuality in a statement.
“It is truly unfortunate that Abe feels this way. That said, Abe wasn’t invited back to train with us this fall, as a postgraduate, for reasons entirely unrelated to his sexuality,” their joint statement read. “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.”
Stanford did not immediately respond to PEOPLE’s requests for comment.
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DeVine, 23, said he was sharing his story as a means of pushing for change and inspiring action.
“My story is not unique. There are queer voices everywhere and all you have to do is listen,” he wrote. “I am asking, begging for some sort of action … Gay or straight, swimmer or not. None of us are exempt from homophobia.”
He later clarified on his Instagram Story that he did not want anyone at Stanford to be fired, but was simply speaking his truth.
“Coaches trying to intimidate me, friends turning their backs, cis straight white men trying to deny something they don’t want to understand,” he wrote, according to screenshots posted by SwimSwam. “History is repeating itself in front of me and it’s sad to see.”
DeVine, a Seattle native, publicly came out as gay in a September 2018 interview with Swimming World, in which he said his coaches and teammates were supportive when he first came out to them, despite his fears that they would not be.
“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,” he said. “Just seeing them kind of prove me wrong was definitely special, something I’ll never forget.”
DeVine was a member of the United States 2017 and 2019 FINA World Championship Teams, and represented Team USA at the championships in South Korea this summer.