OT: UMass Basketball Player becomes first openly Gay D1 player

Submitted by Lionsfan on April 9th, 2014 at 10:18 AM

Massachusetts starting sophomore Derrick Gordon just came out publicly, he becomes the first openly gay athlete in D1 Mens Basketball:

"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?'"


Outsports Link

[Ed-S: I'm going to try allowing discussion, though this has a lot of potential for politics. Remain civil and respectful of others' and their opinions.]



April 9th, 2014 at 10:20 AM ^

I knew the domino chain would start to roll from the latest two pro athletes to come out, but this one I think is very big.  I admire this young man's courage.


April 9th, 2014 at 10:23 AM ^

A month or two after Jason Collins joins the Nets, there are almost no stories about him and he's just one of the guys. This after decades of mouth-breathing CAN THEY HANDLE A GAY TEAMMATE speculation.  Long overdue!

Ali G Bomaye

April 11th, 2014 at 2:06 PM ^

I'm not very surprised that Collins has quickly blended in.  But I kind of wonder if the reaction would have been different if he played in a city like Oklahoma City or Dallas (to pick two well-known more socially conservative areas) rather than in Brooklyn.


April 9th, 2014 at 10:24 AM ^

And next week we will see a headline talking about the first openly gay Quiditch player.

Good for him but do we need to make a big deal about EVERY sports first openly gay athlete?


April 9th, 2014 at 12:42 PM ^

In a few years, hopefully, it will not be.

I rather doubt it, I'm afraid.  By and large, any time someone is the first [fill in racial minority] to hold a particular job, the media makes a big deal of it.  The opportunities to do so are doubled if a woman of a particular racial persuasion has never filled the job either.  For example, there had been a black Secretary of State and a woman Secretary of State, but it was still considered noteworthy to announce that Condoleezza Rice was the first black woman Secretary of State.  There have been lots of black head NFL coaches, but the Lions felt compelled to note they'd just hired their first.  This has been going on for decades.

Not much doubt in my mind, then, that for every position that has never been filled by an openly gay person, the same will happen.  First gay head coach, first gay player in the NHL, first gay woman head coach, first gay Cabinet member, first gay Supreme Court judge, first gay president of this or that university, and so on.  I don't think this will stop for decades, either.

Ali G Bomaye

April 11th, 2014 at 2:09 PM ^

The media still writes those stories, but they need to fill column space, so there's desperate to note any event no matter how irrelevant.  I don't think anyone pays attention to them, though.  For instance, I read a lot about football and particularly about the Lions, but I hadn't even noticed that Jim Caldwell was their first black coach until you mentioned it.  Pretty soon the reaction will be "wow, I never even realized that this guy is the first gay professional motocross racer, neat" even if the story still gets written.


April 9th, 2014 at 11:59 AM ^

Yes, because there are still many people, and not just athletes, who are afraid of coming out as openly gay and being potentially ostricized or even attacked in their own neighborhood and community by people that they may have known for a large portions of his/her life. Until it stops being a divisive issue among the general public, there will be more "firsts" and those will be always be a big deal to many.


April 9th, 2014 at 10:37 AM ^

we can't control ourselves.  And I mean everybody. 

We all have our pet peeves, our hot buttons.  If folks want to discuss in an academic manner, no judging and discuss the aspects of why these announcements are good or bad, effect they'll have on the sports world, then we can keep it civil.

However, we've proven time and again that not all of us can do so without letting things get out of hand.


April 9th, 2014 at 10:31 AM ^

Not this again.  We know a thread like this is not going to end well.  Neither side will convice the other.  Let's talk Michigan sports and let this subject slide to other forums.


April 9th, 2014 at 2:14 PM ^

You seriously need this comment explained to you?? Ok. I was was commenting that the people who think this is a great thing will not convince the people who don't think this is a great thing that they are right. Also, it won't work the other way around. How on earth you got that people won't beleive he is gay out of that I have no idea.

Meanwhile, there has been religion bashing and gay bashing going on in this thread (most of it removed). My point was that I don't think we need to have the thread. Everyone has said all that needs to be said in the last two threads about this subject (both of which got locked).

If that isn't clear enough for you, I can't help you any more.

West German Judge

April 9th, 2014 at 10:43 AM ^

"UMass guard Derrick Gordon sits down with Kate Fagan to announce that he is gay, becoming the first openly gay athlete in Division I men's basketball."

"He becomes the first active male NCAA Div. 1 basketball player to come out publicly."

I don't know what to do about the copy-paste format, but yeah, both of the links in the OP clarified.  If people were talking about Jason Collins' reveal as less significant than it could be because he's a "scrub", then I can definitely see how a Div 1 vs Div 2/3 or a revenue vs non-revenue athlete can be perceived as having differing ~impacts~.


April 9th, 2014 at 10:37 AM ^

Good for him. No one should have to hide something like that out of fear of being rejected by his teammates. Hopefully he continues to have a good college career. 


April 9th, 2014 at 11:22 AM ^

"He looked happier, stress-free, like that was the real him," Bergantino said. "Before, when he would walk into the locker room, there was this cloud around him, like you couldn't quite get to him."

Your comment made me think of this point in the article because of this observation a teammate made right before Gordon made his announcement. That second part is a little sad honestly, but it illustrates a larger problem in the culture of sports and really in society as a whole - perceived expectations that prevent honest and open communication. Hopefully, one day, nobody will feel like they need to keep that cloud around them. 


April 9th, 2014 at 11:27 AM ^

I completely agree. And having two step brothers who are openly gay, I can tell you that their demeanor completely changed after they told our family. I already knew, and it made no difference to me or anyone else in our family. We love them all the same. To me, this is for the young man, his family, and his teammates. The public opinion shouldn't matter, and my guess is that his teammates are similar to our family, that's their brother and sexual orientation is one small part of who he is. 


April 9th, 2014 at 10:39 AM ^

Are there openly gay D2 or D3 players to have the need for the D1 designation in the thread title?  Also what about the womens game have we not had any openly gay female basketball players?  


April 9th, 2014 at 12:33 PM ^

According to the link I posted

"Griner came out as a lesbian while playing at Baylor University in Texas. There, she was a much beloved star, but Griner had no idea her school had a policy against homosexuality until her coach urged her to keep quiet about it. Griner disclosed her sexual orientation in interviews with SI.com and ESPN shortly before leaving college. Now she's made it something of a mission to address closet culture in women's sports."


April 9th, 2014 at 10:56 AM ^

Personally, I don't understand the "do we have to make a big deal about this? crowd. You don't have to participate in the conversation, watch the talking heads discuss it or read every article about it. If you're tired of hearing about it, it's kind of your fault. I don't think it's coming up too much in every day conversation. All you really have to do is avoid Sportscenter, First Take, and sports talk radio and these are things everybody should be avoiding in the first place. Nobody is making you click these threads or articles. You're contributing to it being a prevalent issue by doing so. I can anticipate the media going beserk about such news and yet I will probably never lick on an article about it because I don't need to. So despite it being so prevalent, I haven't been bombarded with it because I have chosen to do so.

Wee-Bey Brice

April 9th, 2014 at 11:23 AM ^

I get what they're saying too, though. If being gay isn't supposed to be a big deal then why do they need around the clock coverage every time someone comes out? It's normal and we want everyone to treat these situations like such, yet make headlines out of the announcement, which makes it seem much less normal. That's counterproductive in some ways.

Wee-Bey Brice

April 9th, 2014 at 11:31 AM ^

Of course, I don't think the announcements should stop by any means. I'm just saying that it's possible that ESPN, like any other media outlet, is using these situations to market itself. Every company wants a chance to make statements to express their morality and progressive thinking to appeal to the masses. I think they sometimes use these situations for views and page clicks. So instead of there just being an announcement, there's also 72 hours of covering the exact same story. "Hey look, he's gay and we still like him! Watch our channel because we're forward thinkers" kind of thing. Just my opinion, though.


April 9th, 2014 at 11:36 AM ^

Gotcha.  That's just the media in general.  I can't remember the last time I turned on CNN and didn't see Don Lemon or Anderson Cooper hosting the same 5 guys on a panel discussion about the misisng plane.  It's been literal 24/7 coverage for a month.  I cant' get any other news on there.  I hate Fox and MSNBC but I've had to start watching them if I want to know anything else.