Derrick Gordon, a guard for the University of Massachusetts’ basketball team, became the first openly gay Division I men’s basketball player in NCAA history when he came out of the closet this week.
Gordon made the announcement on Wednesday, just days after coming out to his family to mixed reactions, according to USA Today.
ESPN’s Kate Fagan broke the story, in which Gordon said that it was an "indescribable feeling" to come out. "Honestly didn’t feel like I was going to feel this way for three, four years." Gordon came out to his teammates before telling the media with the help of his coach Derek Kellog.
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He had closely watched the news around NBA veteran Jason Collins and NFL prospect Michael Sam, both of whom are active players and have publicly acknowledged being gay. About a year ago, Gordon befriended former NFL player Wade Davis, who is now the executive director of You Can Play. Davis introduced Gordon to Anthony Nicodemo, the boys’ basketball coach at Saunders High School in Yonkers, N.Y., who came out as gay last year. Davis and Nicodemo, along with several others, including Collins, mentored Gordon behind the scenes.
Gordon says that when the Minutemen returned home from their round-of-64 loss in the NCAA tournament, he began seriously considering coming forward publicly. He had accepted his sexuality during his freshman year in college, and in recent months had started checking OutSports to see who would be the first Division I men’s basketball player to step forward.
"I was thinking about summer plans and just being around my teammates and how it was going to be," Gordon said. "I just thought, ‘Why not now? Why not do it in the offseason when it’s the perfect time to let my teammates know and everybody know my sexuality?’ "
Gordon is one of several athletes to come out as gay over the past year, including the WNBA’s Britney Griner, the NBA’s Jason Collins, and NFL prospect Michael Sam.