What if a professional football player came out as gay… and the world didn’t stop? It blinked a little, but it didn’t stop. To me, that’s the headline from all this. Not a “so what?”
It’s bigger than that. It’s more of an, “okay, good for him.”
By now, you know what I’m talking about. Carl Nassib, a defensive end for the Las Vegas Raiders, posted on Instagram that he’s gay.
If you haven’t seen it yet, you should. Simple, straight to the point, Nassib said, “I want to take a quick moment to say that I’m gay.”
Wait. Did that just happen? Yes, it did. What comes next? Support. Loads and loads of support.
Look, I’m old and gay. I remember a time when this would have been earth shattering. Career ruining. I mean, who would want a gay man with you in a locker room?
How far we’ve come.
Growing up gay in Paris, Texas, in the 1970s, you could not be gay. Even if you knew it about yourself, you couldn’t “be” it. So, I played “the game.” Dated girls… Kinda.
At a class reunion years later, and with a few drinks in me, I told a classmate that I always had a crush on him. His response was, “Really?” He was flattered. The conversation continued that everyone always knew I was gay. You know what? Nobody cared.
I spent a big chunk of my TV news career hiding who I was. It wasn’t until I got to Tampa that I became comfortable telling the people who I worked with that I was gay. They all knew. You know what? Nobody cared.
I’m happily married now. Married to a man whom I love more than anything in the world. Enrique and I just celebrated our ninth anniversary. He is the best thing to ever happen to me. You know what? Everyone cares.
Back to Carl Nassib. Besides coming out as gay, he said he was giving $100,000 to the Trevor Project. That’s a non-profit focused on preventing suicide among LGBTQ+ youth. The Washington Post reports that the The NFL answered by matching it.
President Biden tweeted his support to Nassib and Kumi Yokoyama, a women’s soccer player who came out as a transgender man: “I’m so proud of your courage. Because of you, countless kids around the world are seeing themselves in a new light today.”
“People” reports an outpouring of support for Carl Nassib from the NFL community. J.J. Watt, Julian Edelman and Saquon Barkley among them.
ESPN reports that Carl Nassib’s jersey is now the top seller at Fanatics.
Carl Nassib’s announcement ended this way: “I 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.”
Maybe we won’t need that “coming out” announcement in the future. Right now though, we do. Carl Nassib’s announcement has changed how we view professional sports.
I can’t wait to see where this goes.