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Top university basketball coach comes out as gay

Joseph McCormick October 8, 2015

A leading university basketball coach has come out as gay.

Bryant assistant coach Chris Burns came out on Thursday in a first-person account on Outsports.

In doing so, he became the first Division 1 men’s basketball coach to come out.

Burns was a basketball player for Bryant between 2003 and 2007, and has been an assistant coach of the squad for three years.

Writing for Outsports, Burns said he had attended the Nike LGBT Sports Summit in 2014, and that it made him realise “just how important being able to tell my story would be.”

He went on: “There is no greater feeling than being a part of something bigger than just you. That’s what has always made sports so special for me.

“Since I started telling people in college basketball over the last few months, I’ve realized my fears were far worse than reality. I’ve realized that people, for the most part, are human beings first. For a guy who’s relatively cynical and can be negative, the reactions of people in my sport and in my life have shut me right up and reenergized my hope in the human spirit, in empathy.

“You’ve got to give the majority of people credit for changing attitudes and credit to all the people who have worked to make that possible. Things have gone fairly well for me so far.”

USA Today reports that Burns came out to his friends and family, and his team’s head coach over a year ago.

A senior forward for the team, Curtis Oakley, told USA Today of an “initial shock factor” when he first came out, but that later everyone just accepted him.

“Everyone was, like, ‘Yo, Burns, we rockin’ with you.’ It was all love,” said Oakley.

Burns also was congratulated by other coaches – Duke head coach Mike Krzyzewski told USA Today: “It takes a lot of courage.”

“My message to him is, first off, congratulations, I’m very proud of you,” said Krzyzewski.

“Next, please know you’ll be accepted by your brothers in the sport of men’s basketball. You’re included now in a very strong way. I think this will be something coaches in our sport will love.”

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