Before last year, the idea of an athlete, whether in a professional league or college, coming out as LGBT seemed like a far off dream. But after high-profile athletes like Jason Collins and Brittney Griner burst down the closet doors with their own stories, LGBT athletes seem to be coming out in droves. Now, the sports world has witnessed another groundbreaking moment as University of Massachusetts basketball player, Derrick Gordon, has now come out to the world as gay.
Gordon, a sophomore starter for UMass, is now the first openly gay male NCAA Division 1 basketball player after coming out in a pair of interviews for Outsports and ESPN.
In his interview for Outsports, Gordon explained that he nearly quit basketball for good last year after isolating himself from his team over the teasing and taunting he’d received over rumors that he was gay; rumors that were started after he “liked” an Instagram photo that his former boyfriend posted of the both of them outside of a gay bar.
“That was probably the lowest point I was ever at. I didn’t want to play basketball anymore. I just wanted to run and hide somewhere. I used to go back to my room and I’d just cry. There were nights when I would cry myself to sleep,” said Gordon, who repeatedly denied to his team that he was gay.
Gordon added, “Nobody should ever feel that way.”
However, Gordon explains that he finally found a bit of solace when he began to venture to New York City and spend time in gay clubs.
“It was the worst four years of my life,” Gordon said, despite the accolades and opportunities he’s received in those four years. “It was torture. I was just going around faking my whole life, being someone I’m not. It’s like wearing a mask because everyone else was wearing that mask. Now that I’m taking the mask off; people can finally see who I really am.”
However, things really began to take an upward swing when a mutual friend introduced Gordon to openly gay former NFL player Wade Davis, who introduced him to a world of openly gay athletes, further helping Gordon to find a sense of hope and courage with the idea of living out and pride.
Just last week, Gordon decided to finally take his first steps out of the closet as he came out to his family. And just days later, with the help of his coach, Derek Kellogg, Gordon came out to his team, who all reportedly shared tears as their teammate came out to them.
“’Happy’ is not even the word,” Gordon said. “It’s a great feeling. I haven’t felt like this; ever. It’s a lot of weight lifted off my shoulders. I can finally breathe now and live life happily. I told all the people I need to tell.”
Although Gordon wants to focus on his basketball career, he says that he wants to use his story to help other LGBT kids stand proudly in their truth.
“When kids aren’t able to come out, I know why. 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,” Gordon said. – nicholas robinson