UMass’ Derrick Gordon first openly gay Div. 1 men’s college basketball player
|04.09.14 at 10:11 am ET|
UMass guard Derrick Gordon announced in interviews with the media that were published Wednesday that he is gay, making him the first men’s college basketball player to come out.
Gordon, a sophomore from Plainfield, N.J., said he told his family, coaches and teammates at the end of March and first days of April. He noted that he was inspired by the Nets‘ signing of Jason Collins, the NBA’s first openly gay player.
“I just didn’t want to hide anymore, in any way,” the 22-year-old 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 1 player would come out, and finally I just said, ‘Why not me?’ ”
Gordon started all 33 games this past season — his first at UMass after transferring from Western Kentucky, and averaged 9.4 points and 3.4 rebounds. However, he told Outsports.com that he considered walking away from the game because his teammates were treating him differently after rumors started to circulate about his homosexuality — which Gordon denied.
“That was probably the lowest point I was ever at,” he told Outsports. “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.”
After the Minutemen lost to Tennessee in the NCAA tournament on March 21, he decided to make his sexuality public.
“I just had a lot of time to myself, thinking, and I didn’t know what I was waiting for,” he said.
Gordon told coach Derek Kellogg in a phone conversation on March 30 and then talked to the team — with Kellogg by his side — on April 2. Gordon said the team was supportive, with one player telling him, “We got you; you’re one of us.”
“Before, I usually just kept to myself because I didn’t want to lie or be fake,” Gordon said. “But not anymore. I feel so good right now. It’s like this huge weight has been lifted off my shoulders.”