Footballer Carl Nassib has made history by coming out as gay (Photos: Instagram / Erik Drost)
American footballer Carl Nassib has come out as gay, making him the first-ever openly gay active player in the National Football League (NFL).
Nassib, 28, is a defensive end for the Las Vegas Raiders which is part of the NFL. On Monday, he addressed his sexuality in a video posted on Instagram during international Pride Month.
“I just wanted to take a quick moment to say that I’m gay. I’ve been meaning to do this for a while now, but I finally feel comfortable enough to get it off my chest,” he said.
Nassib added that he is “a pretty private person” and wasn’t coming out for attention.
“I just think that representation and visibility are so important. I actually hope that one day videos like this and the whole coming out process are just not necessary. But until then, I’m going to do my best and do my part to cultivate a culture that’s accepting, that’s compassionate.”
Nassib announced that he was donating $100,000 to The Trevor Project, a leading suicide prevention service for LGBTQ youth in America.
Amit Paley, CEO & Executive Director of The Trevor Project, thanked the athlete for his contribution which will allow the organisation to reach the more than 1.8 million LGBTQ youth who consider suicide each year in the US.
“At a time when state lawmakers are actively trying to restrict transgender and nonbinary youth’s participation in school sports, this news should serve as a clarion call for greater LGBTQ inclusion in the locker room and on the field,” said Paley.
Nassib also revealed that he had agonised about coming out for the last 15 years. He thanked his family and friends as well as the NFL, his coaches and fellow players for supporting his decision to open up to the public about being gay.
NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell issued a statement of support after Nassib posted his video.
“The NFL family is proud of Carl for courageously sharing his truth today. Representation matters,” said Goodell. “We share his hope that someday soon statements like his will no longer be newsworthy as we march toward full equality for the LGBTQ+ community. We wish Carl the best of luck this coming season.”
Sarah Kate Ellis, President & CEO of the LGBTQ advocacy group Glaad, stated that Nassib’s “powerful coming out is a historic reflection of the growing state of LGBTQ visibility and inclusion in the world of professional sports…”
She noted: “As an accomplished athlete who is now the first out gay active player in the NFL, Carl Nassib’s story will not only have a profound impact on the future of LGBTQ visibility and acceptance in sports but sends a strong message to so many LGBTQ people, especially youth, that they too can one day grow up to be and succeed as a professional athlete like him.”
Former American football player Wade Davis came out as gay in 2012 but he was retired from the sport at the time. In 2014, Michael Sam became the first openly gay player to be drafted for the NFL by the St Louis Rams but was not ultimately selected to play for the team.
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