Jallen Messersmith, a junior at
Benedictine College, on Wednesday publicly announced he's gay, making
him the U.S.'s first openly gay men's college basketball player.
In comments to gay sports site
Messersmith, 20, said his experience was positive.
“When I started coming out, I didn't
have anyone to look to for advice or to see how their story went,”
said Messersmith. “People can look to see what happened to me –
and there are positive things going on.”
He said he disclosed that the was gay
to his coach last summer and to his teammates just before the start
of the season.
Messersmith, who suffered bullying at
an early age, added that he hopes to set an example for other young
“You've just got to be comfortable
with yourself,” Messersmith said. “I wasn't very comfortable
with myself for a long time and then when I was, if you put off the
confidence and you are 100% comfortable when you tell someone, they
will support you. They can't, as much as they can try, drag you
down. It's all about you. It's what you think. If you are
comfortable with yourself, you can do anything.”
“I'm definitely happy and content
where I am right now. It's awesome that I have the team support I
do. It's awesome that no one has said anything [negative] and I
haven't had anything change. I just feel really comfortable and it's
really nice,” he said.
Benedictine College, a small liberal
arts Catholic school in Kansas, said in a statement that it supported
Messersmith but added that it would be “inappropriate for us to
discuss the private lives of students.”