Raiders’ Carl Nassib Makes History as First Active NFL Player to Come Out
What a difference time can make! As a matter of statistical probability, it’s a certainty that there have been gay NFL players before, but it’s an encouraging sign of society’s progress that Carl Nassib, a defensive lineman for the Las Vegas Raiders, felt comfortable enough to come out on his Instagram during Pride Month.
Within the post, he spoke of having "agonized over this moment for the last 15 years," but finding the courage to be himself thanks to the loving support of family and close friends, as well as "the NFL, my coaches and fellow players." That’s an unbelievably encouraging thing to hear him say, and we’re glad he was supported in making a decision that for far too many people is difficult and fraught with anxiety. "From the jump, I was greeted with the utmost respect and acceptance."
He also paid tribute to all of the brave men and women who broke down barriers and challenged taboos before he came out, as these trailblazers helped to make his public coming out much more positive than it might otherwise have been: "I stand on the shoulders of giants, incredible people who paved the way for me to have this opportunity. I do not know all the history behind our courageous LGBTQ community, but I am eager to learn and to help continue the fight for equality and acceptance."
Adding class to class, Nassib went on to make an important pledge, spotlighting those less fortunate members of the LGBTQ community who still need our help and support:
"As I mentioned in my video message, I am partnering with The Trevor Project. I was immediately drawn to The Trevor Project when I learned about their mission to provide suicide prevention services to the LGBTQ community. Young LGBTQ kids are over 5x more likely than their straight friends to consider suicide. For someone like me, who has been so lucky and cherishes every day, it brings me incredible sadness to think that our LGBTQ youth are at such an elevated risk for suicide. I feel an immense responsibility to help in any way I can – and you can too. Studies have shown that all it takes is one accepting adult to decrease the risk of an LGBTQ kid attempting suicide by 40%. Whether you’re a friend, a parent, a coach, or a teammate – you can be that person."
The support from the NFL community has been encouraging to see, with prominent players and the league itself chiming in:
The NFL family is proud of you, Carl. â¤ï¸ pic.twitter.com/HXbcBuLg2X
— NFL (@NFL) June 21, 2021
Good for you Carl.
Glad you feel comfortable enough to share and hopefully someday these types of announcements will no longer be considered breaking news. https://t.co/eevr8cgRay
— JJ Watt (@JJWatt) June 22, 2021
— Julian Edelman (@Edelman11) June 21, 2021
Nassib’s coming out – and the support and encouragement he has received – is a big deal for the NFL, whose most recent openly gay players either never played in a regular season game (Michael Sam) or who only felt safe revealing their sexuality after their playing career had already finished (Roy Simmons).
Let’s hope this marks a turning point, not only for the NFL but for all of professional sports.
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