Las Vegas Raiders star Carl Nassib makes history as first active NFL player to come out as gay
Carl Nassib, the towering Las Vegas Raiders defensive lineman, has made history as the first active National Football League (NFL) player to come out as gay.
Nassib, 28, came out in a heartfelt video posted to his Instagram Monday (21 June) before being shared on the official NFL social media pages.
“I just want to take a quick moment to say that I’m gay,” the five-year NFL veteran said in the video from his home in West Chester, Pennsylvania.
“I just think that representation and visibility are so important.
“I actually hope that like, 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 my part to cultivate a culture that’s accepting, that’s compassionate.”
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He added that he would donate $100,000 to The Trevor Project, a nonprofit that focuses on suicide prevention among LGBT+ youth.
“Sadly, I have agonised over this moment for 15 years,” he said in a text post alongside the video.
“I am also incredibly thankful for the NFL, my coach [Jon Gruden] and fellow players for their support. I would not have been able to do this without them.”
Describing openly living his truth as a “jump”, Nassib, who is a literal giant at 6’7″, reflected on how he “stands on the shoulders of giants, incredible people who paved away the way for me to have this opportunity.
“I do not know the history of behind our courageous LGBT+ community, but I am eager to learn and to help continue the fight for equality and acceptance.”
One such “giant” Nassib joins is Michael Sam, an all-American defensive lineman at the Missouri Tigers, who came out as gay before being drafted to the St Louis Rams in 2014. In becoming the first openly gay player drafted to the NFL, he was cut just months later before quitting in 2015, citing his mental health.
Nassib, who previously played for the Tampa Bay Buccaneer and Cleveland Browns, drew praise from the league as well as his teammates, fellow football players and activists.
The NFL family is proud of you, Carl. ❤️ pic.twitter.com/HXbcBuLg2X
— NFL (@NFL) June 21, 2021
DeMaurice Smith, executive director of the NFL Players Association, threw the union’s support towards Nassib, tweeting that the athlete is “proof that he […] is about making his community and this world a better place}.
Our union supports Carl and his work with the Trevor Project is proof that he – like our membership – is about making his community and this world a better place not for themselves, but for others. https://t.co/jJImZlEkqc
— DeMaurice Smith (@demauricesmith) June 22, 2021
New York Giants running back Saquoan Barkley, who played with Nassib at Penn State, also backed him. “Much respect, brudda,” he tweeted. While retired wide receiver Julian Edelman hailed his “classy” coming out as an “awesome moment”.
Billie Jean King, the storied 77-year-old tennis player, called Nassib “brave” as she tweeted: “The ability to live an authentic life is so important.”
The ability to live an authentic life is so important.
Representation and visibility matter! 🏳️🌈 https://t.co/E6hSOeIioW
— Billie Jean King (@BillieJeanKing) June 21, 2021
On Nassib’s Instagram, his Raiders teammates rushed to welcome him, with both defensive lineman Darius Stills and edge rusher Maxx Crosby saying they were “proud” of him.
His announcement signals a huge turning point in the NFL’s 101-year-long history in becoming the first active player to be openly LGBT+. One certain, GLAAD president Sarah Kate Ellis in a statement to PinkNews, to inspire a whole new generation of queer athletes during Pride Month.
“Carl Nassib’s powerful coming out is a historic reflection of the growing state of LGBT+ visibility and inclusion in the world of professional sports, which has been driven by a long list of brave LGBT+ athletes who came before him,” Ellis said.
“As an accomplished athlete who is now the first out gay active player in the NFL, Carl Nassib’s story will not only have a profound impact on the future of LGBT+ visibility and acceptance in sports but sends a strong message to so many LGBT+ people, especially youth, that they too can one day grow up to be and succeed as a professional athlete like him.”