With Derrick Gordon coming out today, the UMASS shooting guard adds his name to a growing list of gay male basketball players that have come out in the media.
List of Basketball Players that Have Come Out
Thus far, this list of gay basketball players stands at seven players — five from the college ranks and a couple from the NBA. Certainly there’s more, but this list only includes players that have come via the media. Here are those players listed by the most recent coming outs:
Derrick Gordon: With his announcement on April 9, 2014, Gordon become the first openly gay active Division I player. The Sophomore for the UMass Minutemen had been struggling over the last year before finally deciding to come out to his teammates. Before transferring to UMass, Gordon led Western Kentucky in scoring and rebounding as a freshman.
Derek Schell: A smaller, less publicized coming out, but an important one nonetheless. Schell who is the starting guard for DII Hillsdale College (MI) became the first active college player to publicly come out when he told his story to OutSports in October 2013 detailing his struggles. [OutSports]
James Baptist: The 7-2 Baptist played for Bradley from 1992-96 under an academic and athletic scholarship after being one of the most coveted high school players in the Chicago area. Baptist dated women throughout college only coming out a few years after graduating. He told his story to the Windy City Times on June 26, 2013 [Windy City Times]
Jallen Messersmith: Messersmith told his story to OutSports in an artile that appeared on the site on May 28, 2013. The 6-8, 215 pounder plays basketball for Benedictine College in Atchison, Kansas and may have been first men’s college basketball player to come out while still actively playing in college. [OutSports]
Jason Collins: Perhaps the biggest of all the coming outs was that of Jason Collins. A gay man in the highest level of professional sports is what the LGBT community was looking for and on April 29, 2013, Collins came out to Sport Illustrated. Though just a journeyman, Collins was a respected player known for his toughness and defense during his 10 year career. [Interbasket]
Will Sheridan: Former starter for the Villanova Wildcats came out on May 16, 2011 to ESPN. Sheridan played for Villanova from 2003-2007 and came out publicly after his college career though he came out to teammate Mike Nardi in his freshman year. [ESPN]
John Amaechi It’s hard to believe that it’s been more than seven years since John Amaechi came out on February 2007. The former NBA player played 5 years in the NBA and became the trailblazer for Will Sheridans, Derrick Gordons, and Jason Collins. Although Amaechi didn’t publicly come out until after he retired from the NBA, he said that teammates knew and protected him. [ESPN]
More “Coming Outs” Equal Increasing Acceptance?
In this list of gay basketball players, five of the seven players have come out in the last year. Of which four of those players are active players.
With many coming out stories over the last year (April 2013 to April 2014)I’m wondering how many more college (and NBA) players will come out in the next two years. As more players come out, I’ll add them to this list.
What seems to be the most common thread in all these coming outs were the feeling of isolation, fear, and loneliness that an athlete feels caught between the hyper-masculinity of male sports and the gay world.