The list of ways to describe Akil Patterson is long. He’s an addiction counselor with a commitment to LGBT youth – his Patterson Project works to provide positive images for young athletes. He works to overcome negative images of gay men in African-American culture, and other negative images in the sports he loves. He’s a former University of Maryland player. And he’s an accomplished Greco-Roman wrestler with an eye on making the 2016 Olympic team.
And, he’s an out gay athlete whose story includes a past that many gay athletes will recognize, one that includes hiding a secret from family, friends and teammates. Patterson’s work on behalf of LGBT athletes has led to national recognition for his efforts, being named of one the Advocate’s “40 Under 40.” His openness also has led to new opportunities in advocacy and his life. Add to the list of ways to describe Akil: “marriage advocate” and “engaged man.”