A TEENAGE basketball player has told how he was chased out of a school by boys calling him a "f****t" after he came out in the US.
Dalton Maldonado, from Floyd County in Kentucky, had been beaten in an away game with his team from Betsy Layne High School when an opponent hurled a gay slur as they left the court.
"Hey number three, I hear you're a f****t," the player shouted, the 19-year-old recalled to Outsports.
His quick reply - "Yeah baby, can I have your number?" - confirmed the rumours and he told his friends he was gay after breaking down in the changing room minutes later.
Dalton never planned to come out while competing in basketball leagues and had only told his parents that week.
After getting changed, he and his team made their way back to the bus that would take them back to their hotel, but some of the opposing team were waiting.
After shouting "f****t", they tried to board the bus before jumping in their cars so they could chase him as it pulled away.
"Members of the other team were pounding on the windows of our bus, yelling 'let him off the bus' and screaming 'f****t'," Dalton told The Independent.
"I felt a little threatened at first, but more so when they started following the bus."
The chase continued through the city of Lexington until the coach of the opposing team intervened. Dalton plays for Betsy Layne High School in rural Kentucky Dalton plays for Betsy Layne High School in rural Kentucky
Police were called to the hotel Dalton and his team were staying at and for the rest of the four-day tournament, held in December, the group had to be escorted to games.
Some of the younger players were so frightened that they returned home early, he said.
As awful as that experience was, the teenager said he shared his experience because of the way his friends rallied around him afterwards.
"My teammates were amazing through the whole ordeal," Dalton told The Independent.
"They stuck by my side and were there for me…I had grown up with these boys.
"I knew no matter what they'd be there for me and support me - they're like family."
Dalton said he did not want to identify the school team who chased him because he wanted to bring positive attention to the support people get when coming out, not get anyone "bashed".
He thinks homophobia in sport is a problem "in general" but that should not stop people coming out.
"Be who you are, do what you think you're ready to do," he said.
"If it's support you are worrying about, just look at my wall or Twitter. The world will support you, and to the people that don’t…they don’t deserve you in their life."