Just weeks after his team was eliminated from the NCAA tournament, the 22-year-old shooting guard felt it was time. Coming out as gay makes Gordon the first openly gay player in Division I men’s college basketball. The decision to come out publicly comes just days after he revealed his sexuality to his family, coaches and teammates. He told ESPN in an interview that he just wanted to stop lying to those around him.
“I just didn’t want to hide anymore, in any way. I didn’t want to have to lie or sneak. I’ve been waiting and watching for the last few months, wondering when a Division I player would come out, and finally I just said, ‘Why not me?”
Gordon is a native of Plainfield, N.J. and mentioned Jason Collins acknowledging his sexuality and actually playing in games this season in the NBA as a point of inspiration for him. It was important to him to know that his sexuality wouldn’t be an issue if he is to reach the NBA level.
The UMass athletic administration has expressed how proud they are of Gordon. Athletic director John McCutcheon said in a statement that the school is committed to creating a welcoming and accepting atmosphere.
“UMass is proud to have Derrick Gordon as a member of our athletic family and to honor his courage and openness as a gay student-athlete. UMass is committed to creating a welcoming climate where every student-athlete, coach and staff member can be true to themselves as they pursue their athletic, academic and professional goals.”
Teammates have expressed how much happier Gordon looks now that he has come out, noticing that the pressure created some stress for the shooting guard. Even more pressure was taken off when his teammates told him “we got you; you’re one of us” soon after he made his announcement.
Subscribe to New England Gay Issues Examiner.
Follow the New England Gay Issues Examiner on Twitter.