University of Massachusetts basketball player Derrick Gordon is the first openly gay player in Division 1 history. He told his teammates on April 2.
I am the first Division 1 male basketball player to come out and not the last. I AM gay. I’m not afraid. I’m not alone.
— Derrick Gordon (@DerrickGordon02) April 9, 2014
“I just didn’t want to hide anymore, in any way,” Gordon told ESPN. “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?'”
NBA basketball player Jason Collins and Missouri football player Michael Sam gave Gordon the confidence to come out:
“It was a rough process, actually, leading up to this,” Gordon told ESPN. “Those guys just helped me get to where I am right now. If it wasn’t for them, I’d be stuck. For this to be happening right now, me coming out, it’s an indescribable feeling, honestly. I couldn’t be any happier. I feel like I can fly.”
Gordon transferred to UMass from Western Kentucky to be closer to his family. He sat out the 2012-2013 season. He is a redshirt sophomore and averaged 9.4 points, 3.5 rebounds and 2.0 assists a game and started all 33 of UMass’s games. Head coach Derek Kellogg and teammate Tyler Bergantino already notice a huge difference in Gordon.
“From speaking with Derrick, I realized the pressure he had, the weight that was on his shoulders,” Kellogg said. “You can already see in his demeanor that he is so much happier. I actually think this is something that brings our team closer together and helps Derrick play more freely.”
“He looked happier, stress-free, like that was the real him,” Bergantino said. “Before, when he would walk into the locker room, there was this cloud around him, like you couldn’t quite get to him.”
He posted this picture on Instagram with this caption:
“This is the happiest I have ever been in my 22 Years of living…No more HIDING!!!…Just want to live life happy and play the sport that I love…Really would love to thank my family, friends, coaches, and teammates for supporting me….I would also like to thank my support team Wade Davis, Jason Collins, Brian Sims, Micah Porter, Anthony Nicodemo, Patrick Burke,Billy Bean, Gerald McCullough, Kirk Walker…You guys are AWESOME!!! Ready to get back in the gym with my teammates and get on the GRIND and get ready for next season!!!! #BETRUE #BEYOURSELF #HONEYBADGER”