UMass guard Derrick Gordon has come out as the first openly gay male college basketball player in D-I history.
Two weeks after his team’s upset loss to Tennessee in the NCAA tournament, Gordon had a secret he wanted to share with them, one that in a week’s time he would share with the world: He’s gay. No active male athlete in Division 1 college basketball, football, baseball or hockey had ever said those words publicly. After years of waiting for someone else to break the barrier, Gordon wasn’t going to wait any longer.
The 22-year-old shooting guard came out to his family, coaches and teammates in the span of 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 last May, 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.