Derrick Gordon, a 22-year-old sophomore shooting guard for the University of Massachusetts men’s basketball team, publicly came out of the closet on Wednesday, becoming the first active openly-gay male NCAA Division I basketball player.
“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 told Outsports about the difficulty of leading a double life:
Gordon denied it repeatedly, but that didn’t stop various members of the team from teasing him about it. The snickers and snide remarks carried on for weeks. Slowly, it consumed him.
“That was probably the lowest point I was ever at. I didn’t want to play basketball anymore. I just wanted to run and hide somewhere. I used to go back to my room and I’d just cry. There were nights when I would cry myself to sleep.
“Nobody should ever feel that way.”
Gordon then revealed his big secret to his teammates:
“It was powerful for these players to see one of their brothers be so vulnerable,” said Davis, who said he had to turn away from the group in the room lest they see him get emotional. “These are some inner-city kids, some rough, tough kids who Derrick wants to be friends with. They understand who he is a little bit better now.”…
Shortly after the team meeting, Gordon was over the moon, spending this past weekend in New York City. Dancing at Industry, a gay bar in Hell’s Kitchen, Saturday well past midnight, Gordon said he had found something indescribable.
“‘Happy’ is not even the word,” Gordon said. “It’s a great feeling. I haven’t felt like this. Ever. It’s a lot of weight lifted off my shoulders. I can finally breathe now and live life happily. I told all the people I need to tell.”
Davis cut in with the word – Gordon had found “freedom.”
Watch his coming out interview below: