Derrick Gordon, a guard on the
Minuteman basketball team at the University of Massachusetts at
Amherst, has come out gay, making him the first openly gay NCAA
Division 1 basketball player.
According to an Outsports.com profile
published Wednesday, Gordon had over the last eight months distanced
himself from teammates who had teased him that he might be gay.
Surrounded by assistant coaches at a
meeting last Wednesday, Gordon announced to the team that he was gay.
“As he shared with them his story of
isolation, there wasn't a dry eye in the room,” Outsports.com's
Cyd Zeigler wrote. “While it had been easy for some of the
young men to tease someone they thought was gay – and someone who
denied it – the impact of their actions hit home when Gordon
revealed the speculation was true, and that the teasing nearly drove
him from the team.”
“It's a great feeling,” Gordon said
of coming out. “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.”
GLAAD President & CEO Sarah Kate
Ellis called Gordon's coming out “inspirational.”
“Derrick's bold decision to come out
as gay isn't just significant, it's inspirational,” she said in an
emailed statement. “Today, countless young basketball players,
athletes and men of color have another outstanding role model who
reflects the fact that you can be who you want to be no matter who
Gordon told ESPN: “I've always loved
sports but always felt I had to hide and be someone that I'm not.
For my whole life I've been living my life as a lie.”
He added that he came out so that
“athletes never feel like they have to hide. You can be true to
yourself and play the sport that you love.”