In what has quickly become The Year of the Gay Athlete, University of Massachusetts sophomore Derrick Gordon announced that he is gay this morning, making him the first openly gay player in Division I men’s college basketball.
Gordon told ESPN that he was inspired to come out to his family, coaches, and teammates after watching the overwhelmingly positive reaction to Jason Collins becoming the first openly gay man in the NBA.
“That was so important to me,” he said of the first time Jason Collins entered the court, receiving a standing ovation, “knowing that sexuality didn’t matter, that the NBA was OK with it.”
“I just didn’t want to hide anymore, in any way,” Gordon told ESPN. “I didn’t want to have to lie or sneak. I’ve been waiting and watching for the last few months, wondering when a Division I player would come out, and finally I just said, ‘Why not me?'”
Gordon’s coming-out has apparently been a year in the making — he says he contacted Wade Davis, executive director at You Can Play, about a year ago and began making connections that have been “instrumental” to his process.
“He’s like a little brother to me,” Davis said. “I’ve watched him grow into a confident young man who is ready to be a leader on and off the court. His fearless desire to be his authentic self and his personal story of triumph will inspire others and continue to expand consciousness.”
Gordon says immediately after he came out, one of his teammates said “We got you, you’re one of us.”
This morning, out NFL hopeful Michael Sam also offered his congratulations on Twitter:
— Michael Sam (@MikeSamFootball) April 9, 2014