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UMass Guard Derrick Gordon, The First Openly Gay Player In Division I Men’s Basketball

Derrick Gordon
Derrick Gordon, a sophomore guard on the University of Massachusetts men’s basketball team, is the first openly gay player in NCAA Division I men’s basketball:

Derrick Gordon, a sophomore starter for the University of Massachusetts men’s basketball team, stepped forward Wednesday as the first openly gay player in Division I men’s college basketball, sharing his story with ESPN and Outsports.

The 22-year-old shooting guard came out to his family, coaches and teammates in just a few days at the beginning of April. That’s when he also decided to publicly acknowledge his sexuality.

“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?'”

Gordon, a native of Plainfield, N.J., said that a key moment for him came when the Brooklyn Nets signed veteran center Jason Collins to a 10-day contract in February. Collins, who publicly acknowledged his sexuality in April 2013, became the first openly gay player in NBA history when he took the court against the Los Angeles Lakers on Feb. 23.

“That was so important to me, knowing that sexuality didn’t matter, that the NBA was OK with it,” Gordon said.

A number of people in the UMass athletic administration worked closely with Gordon behind the scenes as he prepared to come out to his teammates.

“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,” athletic director John McCutcheon said in a written statement. “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.”

Gordon said he reached his decision to come out publicly in the days after the team’s first-round loss to Tennessee in the NCAA tournament on March 21.

A number of people in the UMass athletic administration worked closely with Gordon behind the scenes as he prepared to come out to his teammates.

“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,” athletic director John McCutcheon said in a written statement. “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.”

Gordon said he reached his decision to come out publicly in the days after the team’s first-round loss to Tennessee in the NCAA tournament on March 21.

Gordon also took to Twitter earlier today:

At some point, news like this won’t be news anymore, but as has been noted before sports seems to be one remaining area of public life where homosexuality isn’t something that people are open about. Slowly but sure that seems to be changing.

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About Doug Mataconis
Doug holds a B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University and J.D. from George Mason University School of Law. He joined the staff of OTB in May, 2010 and also writes at Below The Beltway. Follow Doug on Twitter | Facebook

Comments

  1. CSK says:

    This is news here, but it’s not NEWS, if you see what I mean. The only issue is how well he plays.

    He transferred to UMass from Western Kentucky State in 2012. I wonder if he felt more comfortable coming out here than he would have there.

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  2. Rick Almeida says:

    I’m a UMass undergrad and Missouri Ph.D. It’s been a good couple of months.

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  3. Moderate Mom says:

    I look forward to the day that someone being gay is no longer news and is the equivalent of having blue eyes or red hair – just one more part of the whole person. Given his coming out hasn’t made quite the splash in the news that Sam’s did, maybe we are getting closer and closer to that day.

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