Just months after Michael Sam became the first openly gay football player drafted by an NFL team, Arizona State senior offensive lineman Edward “Chip” Sarafin has come out as gay. The school’s athletic department confirmed the news on Wednesday, making Sarafin the first active college football player to come out to the public while still playing.
Although Sam was technically still in school, he came out publicly following the conclusion of his collegiate career at Missouri. Sam has faced some obstacles, but his courage and the strides he has been able to make after announcing his sexuality has paved the way for athletes like Sarafin.
The offensive lineman said opening up about his sexuality to his teammates set him at peace. He told Phoenix-based sports magazine Compete, “It was really personal for me, and it benefited my peace of mind greatly.” Like Sam, Sarafin has been open with his teammates and coaches before coming out publicly. The support he has received has been overwhelming and further exemplified by his ASU coach Todd Graham.
The head coach said in a statement, “We are a brotherhood that is not defined by cultural and personal differences, but rather an individual’s commitment to the Sun Devil Way. Chip is a fifth-year senior and a Scholar Baller, a graduate and a master’s student. His commitment to service is unmatched and it is clear he is on his way to leading a successful life after his playing career, a goal that I have for every student-athlete. Diversity and acceptance are two of the pillars of our program, and he has full support from his teammates and the coaching staff.”
Sarafin, 6-6, 320 pounds, is a walk-on player who does not figure to play a significant role on the team, but the fact that he is an openly gay athlete on a Division I team paves the way for more acceptance and shows that his teammates are not only ready for an openly gay player, but more than willing to embrace one. Michael Sam congratulated Sarafin in a tweet. He tweeted, “Congratulations Chip Sarafin for having the courage to be yourself. Wishing you and your teammates much success this season. #courage2014.”