Willamette Freshman Conner Mertens Becomes First LGBT College Football Player

Conner-Mertens-gayConner Mertens, a freshman kicker at Willamette University in Oregon, is being hailed as the first “out” college football player in history after coming out as bisexual in a lengthy tweet last night.

He’s being profiled in a massive post on Out Sports today, in which he hopes his story will inspire other LGBT athletes to come out of the closet.

Mertens hasn’t had the opportunity to play much since landing a spot on the Division III team, but says he wanted to start his career in an honest way. Last week, he marched into head coach Glen Fowles’ office and declared “I’m bisexual. I like dudes. I have a boyfriend. And next week, I’m going to tell the world.”

Mertens tells Out Sports he knew coming out publicly was a “big risk,” but has experienced unwavering support from both teammates and other players across the country through an influx of text messages and phone calls. He cites “breaking stereotypes” as one of his major motivations for coming out:

I hate the stereotypes that go along with liking the same sex. You don’t have to follow the stereotype to be this way. I made the decision that if I could help anyone else avoid feeling the way I felt, I would…I had a smile on my face all the time as a kid, but I was dying on the inside. In my hometown, you have to fit in or you’ll be exiled. If somebody had come out that I looked up to in the town, I would have been a lot happier.

His coming out tweet, now favorited over 600 times, encourages other athletes in his position to embrace their sexuality openly:

You are not alone. You do not need to come out but you do need to know that you do not have to go at this by yourself. The aloneness you’re feeling is temporary and it will get better. This place is changing…changing for the better. I made the decision that if I could prevent one person from feeling that self-hatred, loneliness, desperation and a thousand other emotions that I felt, I would. I will be damned if I let anyone tell you that you are wrong or weird or not normal.

Love yourself and allow others to love you. Be who you are and know you’re not alone.

Learn more about Conner Mertens and his coming out process over at Out Sports.

Get Queerty Daily

Subscribe to Queerty for a daily dose of #comingout #connermertens #glenfowles stories and more


  • Kamuriie

    Good for him! A cutie, to boot.

  • boring

    I leve Oregen.

  • jimbryant

    Yay, a man who doesn’t identify as gay but still has some gay in him. Yay, yay, yay. I like these sorts of guys because they don’t submit to the presumptive and dictatorial “you’re either straight or gay” rules of the gay male PC class.

    The gay male PC class consists of grisly gay men who insist on calling yourself gay even if you might have had one boyfriend for 2 days in 50 years of your life.

  • floridaboy

    Great to hear about my alma mater, but the university is Willamette, not Williamette, and the state is Oregon.

  • jimbryant

    You’ve got to realize that women find male bisexuality threatening because it proves that men are superior to women. It’s like saying to a woman that she can’t use sexual consent or non-consent as a weapon against men. A man who can opt into men after being rejected by women is a man who is empowered.

  • DShucking

    Here we go again with the bisexual bullshit. Hopefully he will find the courage to come out as gay by the time he graduates.

  • that_dude247

    Who? And where?

  • Daniel

    Congratulations on coming out of the closet, Conner. You are an inspiration to many people for being brave and coming out of the closet publicly. I am sure it was not an easy thing to do, but, you have changed the views of some people regarding sexuality and sports.

  • jimbryant


    The gay scene is itself a closet, don’t forget. It’s a segregationist closet.

  • Fourltrfred

    Good for him, hope all goes well.

  • Daniel

    Jimbryant, it isn’t a closet if you don’t make it a closet. Some people make it a closet. If they chose to be open, good for them. If they choose to be in the closet, it is for reasons that are important to them.

  • jimbryant


    Sexual behavior should be a private thing.

  • Daniel

    I am very sorry, I didn’t know. I didn’t mean to offend anyone by what I said. It was just my opinion and how I felt about this college player coming out of the closet. I didn’t mean any harm, trouble, or arguments by what I said.

  • richard

    “I Wish he would have done it at the Grammys !” Next to MACKLEMORE The WINNER Who Pissed Off A lot of People !”

  • DShucking

    @Daniel: Dude, you might be too soft for this game…

  • JAW

    Congrats to Conner for having the b_lls to come out and take grief from both the far right and the slime on here that say that he cannot be bi. I hope that the haters on our side will shut up and leave him alone.

    HOWEVER… Conner was not the first… Brian Sims was co-capt of his team at Bloosburg University way back in 2000 He appears to be the first… Brian is also the first Rep elected to the Pennsylvania House of Reps.

    Congrats to both Men!

  • Billysees


    ” Good for him! A cutie, to boot. ”

    Good comment.

  • greyhound1954

    @DShucking: I happen to believe in the Kinsey data that says that most people are not 100 percent straight or gay, but are actually bisexual. If this kid says he’s bi, I believe him. I’m bi, too; always have been, even though I gave up women long ago.

  • DShucking

    @greyhound1954: LOL So you’re gay but choose to identify as bi. Thanks.

  • Mikah

    That’s Great,coming out is a powerful thing.Imagine if every LGBT person felt safe and courageous enough to come out.Homophobes would have a mental breakdown.

  • Billysees


    “…coming out is a powerful thing…”
    “Homophobes would have a mental breakdown.”

    How very very true. The homophobes, especially the religious conservatives, are ‘already’ experiencing mental anguish about all of this. Their desire is to denounce and criticize for all kinds of made up reasons but experience difficulty in getting it to stick when those coming out are respected and liked among their family and friends.

    You can’t defeat loving attitudes towards all.

Comments are closed.