The gay community took another step forward in the sports world today as a University of Massachusetts student-athlete became the first Division I men’s basketball player to come out, according to ESPN.com and Outsports.
Middle and high school student-athletes grappling with a similar decision can now look to Derrick Gordon, a sophomore guard for the UMass Minutemen, as inspiration.
“When kids aren’t able to come out, I know why,” Gordon told Outsports’ Cyd Zeigler. “It’s a scary thing. That’s one of the reasons I’m doing this. I want to give kids some courage and someone they can look up to. If I can come out and play basketball, then why can’t they do it? I want to be able to help those people.”
No active male athlete in Division I college basketball, football, baseball or hockey has ever come out as gay publicly, according to Outsports. It wasn’t an easy decision for Gordon, who grew more isolated from his teammates over the past year in order to hide his true identity.
“It was a rough process, actually, leading up to this,” he told ESPN.com’s Kate Fagan. "[My network of mentors] just helped me get to where I am right now. If it wasn’t for them, I’d be stuck. For this to be happening right now, me coming out, it’s an indescribable feeling, honestly. I couldn’t be any happier. I feel like I can fly.”
In a sit-down interview, Fagan asked Gordon how he reacted when NBA player Jason Collins came out in
A version of this news article first appeared in the Schooled in Sports blog.