Social media has lit up since Monday when Las Vegas defensive end Carl Nassib became the first active NFL player to declare himself gay. The 28-year-old defensive lineman for the Las Vegas Raiders, from West Chester, and former Penn State Nittany Lions, broke the news via video on Instagram in the most pragmatic fashion. He said he was a private person who didn’t do it for attention, but because “I just think representation and visibility are so important.” He posted that he has been agonizing over when to speak his truth for the past 15 years.
If the coming out of professional athletes is not a new phenomenon, it has been rare. In many cases, they have already retired or are being recruited and were about to make the list. Former NBA center Jason Collins came out in 2013, becoming the first openly gay athlete in one of America’s Big Four sports leagues. Michael Sam, an NFL draft, came out in 2014. They made the headlines, then became historic footnotes. We could consider this progress. But Nassib’s case is different. Here is someone who is arguably at the peak of his career. Plus, Nassib’s decision matters as the grill may be the last bastion of modern gladiatorial stadiums where octane levels of testosterone and male chauvinism reign supreme.
READ MORE: West Chester’s Carl Nassib Becomes First Active NFL Player To Announce He’s Gay
I applaud Nassib for his seriousness, which he supported with a donation of $ 100,000 to the Trevor Project, a non-profit organization whose mission is to prevent the suicide of LGBTQ youth.
His timing, whether intentional or not, is impeccable. The month-long pride celebrations culminate this coming weekend and it is a welcome step for a personality also to break down barriers, to reinforce that gays are indeed present in all segments of the community. society. Even though we in the LGBTQ community have made great strides as a movement – as was the case with the landmark Supreme Court ruling legalizing same-sex marriage nationwide this week six years ago – we We have also had setbacks, including last week the same court ruling, centered in Philadelphia, where LGBTQ foster parents are barred from adopting through religious agencies because it violates “religious freedoms.” .
Like the members of my community, I will achieve any victory, big or small. We realize that progress is two steps forward and one step back as we strive for equality and the freedom to love without fear. As Nassib demands privacy as he navigates his next chapter as a proud gay man, he deserves to be Grand Marshal in a future pride parade for giving us this historic moment.
What has been both surprising, and perhaps not so now, is the unequivocal support for Nassib from NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell, league coaches, and dozens of his fellow NFL players, even the union. of NFL players. The feelings of support echo those of other professional sports, not to mention celebrities and the general public. It has even been reported that Nassib’s number 94 jersey is now a top seller.
READ MORE: Carl Nassib Coming Out Makes NFL History, Philadelphia Area
I hope that by coming out, more professional athletes, as well as others, whatever their career or their situation in life, will continue to accept themselves and feel sufficiently empowered. safety to go out. And that the allies will make their support known. Nassib’s coming out will be remembered as a historic moment for the LGBTQ community, but hopefully we will soon come to a point where a non-heterosexual professional football player is not a big deal, where true equality is. reached.
What Nassib has done is offer hope and encouragement to today’s LGBTQ youth who need positive role models. To reinforce that they are not alone. It is improving. That you can be whatever you choose to be in life and still be your true self. It can be a process in its own time and on its own terms. Although everything is worth repeating. And what a week to do it.
Jobert E. Abueva is a writer and New Hope resident.