Carl Nassib Becomes First Active NFL Player to Come Out as Gay

Published on June 23, 2021

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a pile of footballs for carl nassib who came out gay

Carl Nassib, a defensive end for the Las Vegas Raiders, just became the first active NFL player to come out as gay.

In an Instagram story shared from his house in West Chester, Pennsylvania on June 21st, the professional football player said he wanted to take a moment to announce that he’s gay, and that he will be donating $100,000 to the Trevor Project, a non-profit organization dedicated to suicide prevention efforts among LGBTQ youth. 

“I just want to take a quick moment to say that I’m gay. I’ve been meaning to do this for a while now, but I finally feel comfortable enough to get it off my chest. I really have the best life, I’ve got the best family, friends and job a guy could ask for,” Nassib says in the video. “I’m a pretty private person, so I hope you guys know that I’m really not doing this for attention. I just think that representation and visibility are so important. I actually hope that one day, videos like this and the whole coming-out process are just not necessary.”

Carl Nassib Wants to Create a More Accepting Culture

Nassib goes on to say the donation is a symbol of his dedication to creating a more compassionate and accepting culture, and that it’s just the beginning of his role as an advocate for the community.

He finishes the video by noting he’s excited to be a part of the initiative and to help in any way he can, following it up with four more slides of text going into further detail about his personal journey and the Trevor Project. The post has garnered over 47,000 comments and almost 700,000 likes so far. Plus, Nassib’s number 94 jersey is now the top seller in the entire league, according to the NFL’s e-commerce partner Fanatics, proving he’s one of the most inspirational people in the NFL right now.

Nassib decided to come out during Pride Month, a month dedicated to celebrating LGBTQ+ culture and reflecting on the history of Pride, which was born out of riots and protests as the community fought for change.  

President Joe Biden And Others Voice Support for Carl Nassib

Since making the announcement, Nassib has received an overwhelming show of support from the sports community and beyond, with many prominent figures praising him for the move. Public figures outside the sports world have also shown their support, including President of the United States Joseph Biden, who tweeted his praise for Nassib and Kumi Yokoyama, a football player for the Washington Spirit who came out as a transgender man this week.

Nassib’s fellow NFL players like JJ Watt, Saquon Barkley and Julian Edelman also shared messages of solidarity and pride.

Creating a More Welcoming Environment in Sports

In response to Nassib’s announcement, the NFL posted a conversation featuring former offensive lineman Ryan O’Callaghan, who has been outspoken about his own struggles as a gay man in the football world. In the video, O’Callaghan shares his ideas for creating a more welcoming environment in sports for the LGBTQ+ community, noting that he’s glad to see the NFL showing more support for the community in recent years.

“The NFL are taking steps to reach players and let them know that it’s a safe space to be open and come out but once again, every individual has their own reasons, but if players know the person signing their cheque is an ally and they’re not going to judge them for who they love, that will help a lot,” O’Callaghan says.

While Nassib is the NFL’s only openly gay active player currently, the league includes upwards of 1,600 players. With an estimated 5.6 per cent of U.S. adults identifying as lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender or something other than heterosexual, the numbers still don’t add up, signaling there’s more work to be done to ensure LGBTQ+ athletes feel supported enough to come out.

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The Author
Mackenzie Patterson is a Toronto-based writer and journalist. She enjoys long walks, iced coffee on tap, and discovering all the latest and greatest health and wellness trends.