By Esme Murphy

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — Two members of the University of Minnesota track team are sharing their coming out story and their love for one another.

The two Gophers juniors wrote about their experience in an online publication dedicated to gay athletes. Their stories were first featured Wednesday in “” Since then, they’ve received hundreds of emails and messages, thanking them.

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Justin Rabon and Brad Neumann have a lot in common. They are both former Wisconsin state sprinting champions.

“We have known each other distantly since 2011,” Justin said.

“Little did I know, sports would lead me to be the proud, gay athlete I am today,” Neumann wrote. “Track and field led me to a boy named Justin, someone who would turn my world upside down.”

Justin Rabon and Brad Neumann were heavily recruited Wisconsin high school track stars. In the fall of 2013, Justin enrolled at UW-Madison, Brad at the U of M.

They began texting and emailing each other, and an online friendship developed. Then came Thanksgiving week of 2014.

“I was really having a hard time. Brad was the one friend I could count on,” Justin said.

Justin sent Brad a text that said, “I think I might be bisexual or gay.”

“I said I was bisexual to ease the tension, but it was false,” Justin said.

Brad told us, “And the next day I sent the same message to him.”

They had never come out to anybody before.

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“It’s a weight off your shoulders. You can be what you have always wanted to be and not hide anything,” Brad said.

Within a month, they were dating.

“It was amazing. You could never relate to anybody like that before,” Brad said.

That next fall, Justin transferred to the U of M and they began coming out to others. A nervous Justin sent a text to track teammates that said, “You guys I am gay, and Brad and I are dating and this is what it’s going to be.”

Justin said this was the response from teammates.

“They were like just OK that is cool,” Justin said.

The reaction was the same from family and friends, and then the decision to go public by writing their stories. Brad, who is from a very small northern Wisconsin town said,  “I know there are probably kids in these small conservative towns where it’s not OK to be gay, so I wanted them to know that once you come out, life does get better.”

“The best decision I think I’ve made was transferring schools and truly deciding to stay true to my character as a person while being here. In being myself, I have made the most genuine friends, made the greatest memories, and found myself in the process,” Rabon wrote.

Brad and Justin say they are overwhelmed by the positive feedback. Brad alone has gained 1,900 Instagram followers in the past 24 hours.

Rabon says they are still together, living together in Minneapolis. He has one semester before graduating with an undergraduate degree in Kinesiology with a minor in nutrition.

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Esme Murphy