Jun 21, 2021 - Sports

Raiders player becomes first active in NFL to come out as gay

Photo of Carl Nassib in a red shirt looking into the air

Photo: Julio Aguilar via Getty Images

Las Vegas Raiders player Carl Nassib becomes the first active NFL player in history to come out as gay on Monday.

Driving the news: Nassib said he was coming out now because "representation and visibility are so important" and he will be donating $100,000 to the Trevor Project, a suicide prevention service for LGBTQ youth in the U.S.

  • The NFL has "plenty of" members of the LGTBQ community, but the vast majority are closeted due to fear that their identity will negatively impact their career, former NFL player Ryan O'Callaghan told Reuters in 2019.

What he's saying: "What’s up people," Nassib posted on Instagram. "I just wanted to take a quick moment to say that I’m gay. I’ve been meaning to do this for a while now but finally feel comfortable getting it off my chest."

  • "I’m a pretty private person so I hope you guys know that I’m not doing this for attention. I just think that representation and visibility are so important," he said.
  • "I actually hope that one day, videos like this and the whole coming out process are not necessary, but until then I will do my best and my part to cultivate a culture that’s accepting and compassionate and I’m going to start by donating $100,000 to the Trevor Project."

The big picture: Several former NFL players have come out as queer after retiring, according to Out Magazine.

  • "I think it's safe to say there's at least one on every team who is either gay or bisexual," said O'Callaghan, who published a book in 2019 that detailed the mental distress of passing for straight in the NFL.
  • Former running back Dave Kopay was the first major professional athlete to come out in any sport in 1975, three years after his retirement. He later encountered obstacles to becoming a coach due to his sexuality, the University of Washington Magazine reports.
  • In 2014, Michael Sam became the first openly gay player to be drafted by an NFL team, but he stepped away from football a year later for mental health reasons.
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