WASHINGTON (CBSDC) – 22-year-old UMass shooting guard Derrick Gordon became the first openly gay Division-I men’s basketball player on Wednesday, telling ESPN and Outsports.com, and informing his family, coaches and teammates the week before.
Gordon, a sophomore from Plainfield, N.J., told ESPN unburdening himself felt “awesome.”
And his coach helped soften the shock of the announcement with Gordon’s teammates, by warming them up with a little levity.
“He said we should start it off funny,” Gordon said. “So he said, ‘I just wanted to let y’all know that I’m gay.’ And everybody looked at my coach surprised, and as soon as I said it, everybody wasn’t surprised at all.”
“I don’t want them to feel that they have to act a different way around me, or be a different way,” he went on to say.
Gordon becomes the latest in a growing movement of transparency, in American pro sports, spearheaded a year ago by Jason Collins becoming the first openly gay NBA player, from whom Gordon drew great inspiration.
Seeing Collins sign a 10-day contract with the Nets in February was a seminal moment for Gordon in deciding to come out, he said.
Other recent American athletes to come out were NFL hopeful Michael Sam and MLS star Robbie Rogers, who had briefly retired upon coming out, but later signed with the LA Galaxy to become the first out MLS player.
Shortly after going forward with his public announcement, Gordon Instagrammed a photo of him wearing a shirt from Nike’s #BETRUE line — from which all profits are donated to the LGBT Sports Coalition to support the goal of ending discrimination in sport.
This is the happiest I have ever been in my 22 Years of living...No more HIDING!!!...Just want to live… instagram.com/p/mkmkBQuooq/—
Derrick Gordon (@flash2gordon) April 09, 2014
Professional sports in America, it seems, is finally nearing the point in which a player should be judged for his or her performance on the field, and not their preference off it.
For more on this story, head over to CBS Boston.