happy pride!

Carl Nassib: What you need to know about the first active NFL player to come out as gay

 

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Las Vegas Raiders football player Carl Nassib came out as gay yesterday via a video he posted to his Instagram account. This makes him the first active NFL player to come out.

Nassib’s video began with him saying: “I’m at my house here in West Chester, Pennsylvania. I just wanted to take a quick moment to say that I’m gay. I’ve been meaning to do this for a while now but finally feel comfortable enough to get it off my chest. I really have the best life, I’ve got the best family, friends and job a guy can ask for.”

“I’m a pretty private person so I hope you guys know that I’m really not doing this for attention. I just think that representation and visibility are so important.

“I actually hope that like one day, videos like this and the whole coming out process are not necessary, but until then I am gonna do my best and do my part to cultivate a culture that’s accepting that’s compassionate.”

 

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He also announced that he was making a $100,000 donation to the Trevor Project, which works to support LGBTQ youth and prevent suicide.

Related: Las Vegas Raiders defensive lineman Carl Nassib comes out

He also posted a statement, saying, ““Hey everyone, happy Pride Month. Right now, I am sitting in a moment of gratitude and relief. Sadly, I have agonized over this moment for the last 15 years. Only until recently, thanks to my family and friends, especially Connor, Cason, and Francis, did it seem possible for me to say publicly and proudly that I’m gay. I am also incredibly thankful for the NFL, my coaches, and fellow players for their support. I would not have been able to do this without them. From the jump, I was greeted with the utmost respect and attendance.”

He went on to say he was looking forward to learning more about LGBTQ history, and acknowledged he stands “on the shoulders of giants, incredible people, who have paved the way for me to have this opportunity.”

He also talked about why he was donating to the Trevor Project.

“Young LGBTQ kids are 5x more likely than their straight friends to consider suicide.

“I feel an immense responsibility to help in any way I can – and you can too. Studies have shown that all it takes is one accepting adult to decrease the risk of an LGBTQ kid attempting suicide by 40%. Whether you’re a friend, a parent, a coach, or a teammate – you can be that person.”

“I hope everyone can understand that I am just one person,” Nassib concluded. “I am a lanky walk-on who is living his dream. I owe it to my team, coaches and Raider fans to be completely locked in and at my best for the upcoming season. Thank you everyone for your support. Happy Pride Month and Go Raiders.”

 

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Nassib’s announcement made breaking news around the world. He is not the first NFL player to come out, but he is the first to do so as an active player with his team. Around half a dozen have come out after their playing careers were over, such as David Kopay and Roy Simmons.

Meanwhile, the University of Missouri and St. Louis Rams defensive lineman Michael Sam famously came out in 2014, and was drafted, but never made a roster (which is not to take anything away from the significance of Sam’s own coming out or its impact).

Nassib is 28. He grew up in Malvern, Pennsylvania. The son of Mary and Gilbert Nassib, he has four siblings: two brothers and two sisters. One older brother, Ryan, was a backup quarterback for the New York Giants back in 2014 and 2015.

 

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Nassib, who is 2meters tall, played college football at Penn State and was drafted by the Cleveland Browns in the third round of the 2016 NFL Draft. He has also played for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. In 2020, he signed a three-year, $25 million contract with the Las Vegas Raiders, for whom he plays defensive end.

His public profile was boosted by his appearances on the HBO reality series, Hard Knocks. In particular, he won fans for a scene in which he was seen offering financial advice to his teammates.

It is not known whether he is single, dating or in a relationship (sorry!).

Nassib’s announcement has prompted thousands of reactions on social media. Predictably, some have trotted out the “Why does he have to make an announcement?!?” line. To that, we’d recommend they’d actually carefully read Nassib’s words and ponder the importance of representation instead of just reacting to the headline.

Nassib’s team, the Raiders, were among the first to react, re-posting his words with a caption simply saying: “Proud of you, Carl.”

Roger Goodell, the NFL commissioner, said in a statement, ““The NFL family is proud of Carl for courageously sharing his truth today. Representation matters.”

Related: US Olympic figure skater Jason Brown comes out as gay in Pride Month message

Raiders owner Mark Davis told ESPN, “It’s 2021. All the more power to Carl. It doesn’t change my opinion of him as a person or as a Raider.”

Fellow footballer Ryan Russell came out as bisexual in 2019. A free agent, he has not been drafted since. He tweeted, “Congratulations to Carl Nassib! Ball out this season brother! Happy #Pride”

Russell later tweeted a reminder that there are LGBTQ athletes in every sport, but the big thing changing is the increasing love and support they are receiving.

Billie Jean King tweeted: “The ability to live an authentic life is so important. Sending love and support to Carl Nassib of the @Raiders, who has bravely made history as the 1st active NFL player to come out. He has also donated $100K to @TrevorProject. Representation and visibility matter! 🏳️‍🌈”

Harvey Fierstein tweeted, “I’m crying with happiness for what this will mean for our youth.”

Legendary former player Warren Moon congratulated Carl and said he’d known several gay players who never felt able to come out.

 

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