In April of this year, Derrick Gordon of the Division I University of Massachusetts basketball program, publicly ‘came-out’ when speaking with Kate Fagan of espnW. Gordon’s honesty is timely and his story represents a movement in sport to accept and support LGBTQ athletes – this movement seems to be unstoppable and my impression is that it’ll culminate into a level of normalcy that is unprecedented (I’ll write more about this another time).
What’s interesting about the article is how it chronicles Gordon’s process – the decision to tell family, teammates, the coaching staff, and then the public; and the risks that he considered when taking these steps, which couldn’t have been easy. You know, for every LGBTQ athlete who does this [‘comes-out’], things do get a little easier for others, and of course the point is that it gets easier for themselves too although the road through it can be excruciating and/or nerve-wracking (to say the least). Ultimately this is why Gordon chose to be honest…it’s a brave thing to do.
Fagan also points out: “one of the common refrains surrounding gay athletes, specifically their decision to go public, is they will somehow become a ‘distraction’ to their teams, a sideshow for media and fans. But [Derek] Kellogg [U of M men’s basketball coach] says he thinks this news might galvanize his UMass squad and finally allow Gordon to play with more freedom and ease. ‘I’m looking at this as something that brings our team closer together,’ Kellogg said . ‘From speaking with Derrick, I realized the pressure he had, the weight that was on his shoulders'”.
This is fantastic leadership on the part of U of M, great messaging, and puts Gordon in a position where he can, and should, continue in his role with the university’s basketball program and flourish as a player. This whole story makes me happy 🙂
… I wonder though – when, and if, he chooses to enter the NBA Draft, will a team, and the league, embrace him? We shall see. Hopefully yes.