CP: As the only openly gay elite snowboarder, why did you decide to come out?
RM: I came out my second year on the pro tour as living a "double life" was taking its toll on me both personally and professionally. Living/training with the same people 7 days a week on the road was becoming increasingly more difficult as I tried to play straight by going to strip clubs, cruising girls, etc. Finally I was exhausted and had enough and just came out to the team once night when I was being pushed to go to a strip club in Vancouver.
CP: What was the reaction of fellow athletes?
RM: Most of the team stopped talking to me and including me in social activities. The coach had the same reaction as well, almost acting as if I didn't exist. The assistant coach and a handful of teammates were cool with it all and acted as if nothing changed which was the best part. In the end though, I did end up move to Steamboat Springs Winter Sports Club the next season which had a more open and accepting atmosphere under the coach at that time.
CP: Do you have any gay sports role models?
RM: I have the usual role models, Martina, Greg, Rudy, etc, but the thing is, they all came out after their active competitive careers. There really wasn't anyone still in their prime, openly competing at any level in any sport that was getting any press.
CP: Do you see yourself as a role model? Is there a message you hope to convey to up and coming gay athletes?
RM: It wasn't my intention initially to be a role model. I was out there doing what I loved and doing it as myself. But what I found was that people started to pay attention to what I was doing and writing me to let me know that in some small way it was helping them. The way I look at life in general is that if I can be happy doing whatever I'm doing, and help someone in any way what so ever in doing that, that's what I want to do. If that makes me a role model, I'm happy to be there filling that void.
CP: What are your feelings toward closeted athletes?
RM: I don't really have a position. Coming out in sports, is a lot like coming out in life outside of sports. Everyone has to do it on their own terms. In the world of elite sports, the one thing to remember is that for the most part, money makes the world go around. You can't pay coaches, pay to live, pay to compete if you don't have income. If you don't have sponsors who are accepting of who you are, you have a hard choice. Do I fake who I am to attain my dreams? Or, do I be true to myself and roll the dice? I lucked out in that there were organizations out there willing to pick up where I fell short when I came out. Others might not have that type of assistance, so it's really an individual decision. Do I wish everyone would come out and show the world that we're there, and we can play with the best of them, sure I do.
CP: What was high school like for you? Did you participate in sports?
RM: I didn't really participate in sanctioned sports in HS. I was an avid skier and snowboarder, but back east, sports consisted of football, wrestling, baseball, and basketball. None of which really held my interest. The only sport that did hold interest was lacrosse, but public schools at the time didn't field teams, so I had to wait until college. So I filled my time with music and theater which initially let me to pursue a degree in music my first few years of college before settling on a Management and Economics course of study.
CP: How are your aspirations for the 2006 Olympics coming along?
RM: After taking a season off in 03/04 to compete for myself and have fun while not officially train that season, I found a new coach for the 04/05 season and trained on weekends at Copper Mtn. I found that balancing my riding time between having fun with my boyfriend and other friends and training helped to keep my head clear and things in perspective. With that, I finished with my most successful and consistent season yet consistently finishing in the top 20 and 25 at all of my Nor-Am races this year. With that, I'm in a good position to make a run at the 2006 team as long as I can round up the financial support to allow me to train and travel to do what I need to do to focus on that.
CP: Any plans for the 2006 Gay Games here in Chicago?
RM: Actually I'm learning to play ice hockey now, playing my 4th game ever the night before I fly to Chicago. I'm really hoping to be able to make it out for the Gay Games next year to play during the games. It'd be great if I could snowboard, but for some reason the winter version of the games has never come to fruition despite many attempts.
CP: You're here in Chicago for Pride Weekend... is this your first visit?
RM: For pride yes. To Chicago no. Steve and I have a lot of friends who we consider family in Chicago so we try to make it a few times a year.
CP: When not traveling, where do you call home?
RM: Although I'm from Philadelphia originally, I now live in Denver, CO.
CP: Other than training, how do you spend your free time?
RM: Most of my free time is spent remodeling our house. At least that is the last 3 years. Other than that I enjoy riding my motorcycle, playing hockey, going to the theater, and traveling.
CP: We must ask, are you single?
RM: Sorry, but Steve and I have been together for 3 years now.
CP: Boxers? briefs? both? neither?
RM: Hmm, that's the same question I was asked on Canadian TV a few years back. I'd have to say Square Cuts by day... I'll keep you guessing by night.
CP: What is your theme (favorite) song?
RM: I'd have to say Garth Brooks "Rodeo"
Note: Another special guest attending this year's Chicago Pride is Billboard recording artist and former American Idol, Jim Verraros. Jum will be riding the ChicagoPride.com float this year. Read his ChicagoPride.com interview!