Cheers to Carl Nassib—First Active National Football League Player to Openly Say He Is Gay



From a reader

On June 21, Carl Nassib, defensive end for the Las Vegas Raiders of the NFL (National Football League), announced on Instagram that he was gay. He said, “I just want to take a quick moment to say that I’m gay. I’ve been meaning to do this for a while now, but I finally feel comfortable enough to get it off my chest. I really have the best life. I’ve got the best family, friends and job a guy could ask for. I’m a pretty private person so I hope you guys know that I'm really not doing this for attention. I just think that representation and visibility are so important.”

The support for Nassib has been overwhelming. His Instagram post with the announcement has received over 745,000 likes as of June 30. His jersey quickly became the top-selling item across the league, according to the sports gear site Several current and former NFL players voiced their support for Nassib, including current stars J.J. Watt and Saquon Barkley.

In Nassib’s announcement, he said he was pledging to donate $100,000 to the Trevor Project, an organization that provides crisis and suicide prevention services to young LGBTQ+ people. The Trevor Project announced that since Nassib made his pledge, it has received pledges of over $300,000.

In a scramble to get on top of this and seeing the support that Nassib was getting and the widespread support for the LGBTQ+ community, the NFL posted a 30-second video,"Football Is for Everyone,"which begins with words on the screen saying “Football is gay… football is lesbian…” And they pledged to match Nassib’s donation to the Trevor Project. It has got to be said that despite the fact that the video is a positive move by the NFL, at the same time, this league has been long known as a “good old boys” misogynist and anti-LGBTQ sports organization. And the league refuses to take responsibility for its years of total silence on social issues like LGBTQ+ equality and racial justice, and anti-gay views among its players and fans. One thing that is telling about the NFL is that no player has ever chosen an LGBTQ-specific cause for their My Cause My Cleats support, where players are allowed to represent their social cause on their shoes. At the same time, in 2019, six NFL players, who are in the Fellowship of Christian Athletes, wore shoes that supported anti-LGBTQ bias.

There are former players who have in past years courageously revealed that they were gay after leaving the NFL. They include David Kopay, Jerry Smith, Ray McDonald, Roy Simmons, Jeff Rohrer, Esera Tuaolo, Kwame Harris, Ryan O’Callaghan, and a few others. Michael Sam announced in 2014 he was gay before he was drafted by the Los Angeles Rams, but he was cut from the team before playing a game for them.

Because Carl Nassib is an active player, his announcement is truly a historical breakthrough in a sport that has historically been anti-gay, and I would hope that this will allow other current NFL players who are gay to follow in his footsteps.

Carl Nassib will continue to get cheers on the football field for his level of play, but he should now receive worldwide cheers for who he is as a person.



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