First Openly Gay D-1 College Basketball Player is...

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    Apr 09, 2014 2:17 PM GMT

    Derrick Gordon of UMass! Sophomore starter for the Minutemen. Congrats to the young man!
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    Apr 09, 2014 2:22 PM GMT
    ESPNGordon said he reached his decision to come out publicly in the days after the team's first-round loss to Tennessee in the NCAA tournament on March 21.

    "I just had a lot of time to myself, thinking, and I didn't know what I was waiting for," said Gordon, who transferred to UMass after one season at Western Kentucky.

    In his first season with UMass, the 6-foot-3 Gordon averaged 9.4 points and 3.5 rebounds per game. He started all 33 of the Minutemen's games, and had a season-high 22 points on Nov. 21 against Nebraska.

    He played his high school basketball at St. Patrick in Elizabeth, N.J., one of the best prep programs in the country, then went on to lead Western Kentucky in scoring as a freshman (11.8 points per game). The team made the NCAA tournament, and Gordon was a third-team all-Sun Belt Conference player as a true freshman, but he decided to transfer so he could be closer to his family.
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    Apr 09, 2014 2:28 PM GMT
    Outsports (now with SB Nation) has been doing quite a service getting out in front of the media with well-prepared, longform articles like this.

    OutsportsThe transfer from Western Kentucky University nearly quit basketball last autumn after sitting out the previous season due to NCAA regulations. He was a big acquisition for the Minuteman, "instant offense" with the ability to shoot the jumper or drive hard to the basket. Fans – and Gordon himself – were excited by the prospects of his next three years in Amherst.

    That was all nearly derailed when Gordon’s then-boyfriend last summer posted a photograph on Instagram of the two of them in front of a gay bar on the New Jersey coast. Gordon was wary of the post but figured there was little chance someone would stumble across the photo on a random Instagram account and identify him and said gay bar. Shortly after the post, almost as though he wanted to be discovered, Gordon "liked" the photograph online. Within hours, some of his teammates asked him if he were gay.

    Gordon denied it repeatedly, but that didn’t stop various members of the team from teasing him about it. The snickers and snide remarks carried on for weeks. Slowly, it consumed him.

    "That was probably the lowest point I was ever at. 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."

    When Gordon eventually confronted his team – again asserting he was straight and demanding they stop harassing him – the teasing slowed. Yet the damage was already done. Throughout the season – all the way into the NCAA tournament last month – some teammates continued to wait until Gordon was done in the locker room before they would venture into the showers. The "gay" label lingered. The treatment built distance between him and the rest of the team. Gordon responded by isolating himself, which in turn was met with more distance from various players.

    "Most of the time when you see me on campus, I'm alone. I eat alone a lot. Since the school year started in September I haven't been to one party. I'm always working out or lifting or in my room. I do the same thing over and over every day. I feel like I can't be who I am or live my life."
  • 1AlanZSky

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    Apr 09, 2014 2:34 PM GMT
    He is hot!
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    Apr 09, 2014 2:45 PM GMT
    UMass Athletic Director John McCutcheon (via ESPN)"UMass is proud to have Derrick Gordon as a member of our athletic family and to honor his courage and openness as a gay student-athlete... UMass is committed to creating a welcoming climate where every student-athlete, coach and staff member can be true to themselves as they pursue their athletic, academic and professional goals."
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    Apr 09, 2014 2:47 PM GMT

    Then at WKU, Gordon is consoled by Kentucky's Michael Kidd-Gilchrist after losing in the Hilltoppers' initial round of the NCAA tournament. At the legendary St. Patrick's high school, Gordon was a teammate of Kidd-Gilchrist, who became the #2 pick in the NBA Draft and is currently with the NBA's Charlotte Bobcats.

    St. Patrick's quest for an undefeated season was the subject of a documentary aired by HBO. Gordon is #32 in the trailer.
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    Apr 09, 2014 3:25 PM GMT
    Nothing against WKU, but the dude really picked a good place to transfer to.

    OutSportsPat Griffin, often called the grandmother of the LGBT sports movement, has been working with UMass – her alma mater – and Gordon. She has noticed a measurable shift in Gordon’s attitude and behavior in just the last week when she first met him.

    "It's been fun to see how excited he is about just living his truth," Griffin said. "It's like watching someone start the first day of the rest of his life, to take a deep breath and say, 'here I am.' it's very exciting to watch this young man who has had such a lonely experience just come into his own and feel so good about who he is."
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    Apr 09, 2014 3:32 PM GMT
    Another good article, not sure why it had to be posted on ESPNW, but whatever...

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    Apr 09, 2014 3:36 PM GMT
    Noteworthy similarity with Jason Collins: Derrick Gordon has a twin brother.

    His twin strayed further into crime in middle and high school, while Derrick was redirected into basketball via the high-profile private Catholic school. The twin brother is currently serving a 4-year prison sentence after shooting a man in the chest, according to OutSports, but he's scheduled to be released later this fall.
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    Apr 09, 2014 5:08 PM GMT
    Good for him

  • irishkcguy

    Posts: 780

    Apr 09, 2014 5:13 PM GMT
    I don't know if we can fully realize the cultural significance having gay athletes in high profile sports is going to have. For straight guys who don't have any gay friends or family, this is shattering stereotypes of gay men.
  • MikeW

    Posts: 6082

    Apr 09, 2014 5:18 PM GMT
    irishkcguy saidI don't know if we can fully realize the cultural significance having gay athletes in high profile sports is going to have. For straight guys who don't have any gay friends or family, this is shattering stereotypes of gay men.
    I agree. I can't imagine what a difference knowing there were other gay guys into sports would have had on me when I was a teenager, but I know it would have given me permission to be more myself.
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    Apr 10, 2014 4:57 PM GMT
    Way to go, Uncle Drew!

    Akron Beacon JournalCLEVELAND: Kyrie Irving strongly supported Derrick Gordon on Wednesday, Irving’s former teammate and the first openly gay player in Division I men’s basketball.

    “I’m proud of him,” Irving said. “It’s a big step, not only in his life but in his career to get the weight of the world off his shoulders.”

    Irving spoke to Gordon on Tuesday, but had no idea he is gay or that he was planning an announcement. Irving said he learned it watching television like everyone else.

    Gordon is a sophomore at Massachusetts, and the two have been friends for about eight years, Irving said, including time as high school teammates at St. Patrick’s in New Jersey.

    “I never had a problem with homosexuality,” Irving said.

    “Even if one of my teammates was a homosexual, I wouldn’t have a problem with it. But to see guys in sports coming out now is part of life.”

    Irving told Gordon during their conversation Tuesday he’ll be back in New Jersey during the offseason and offered for the two to work out together.

    “I’m not a judgmental guy, not one bit,” Irving said. “But I’m proud of Derrick and I’m proud of Jason Collins. It’s a big step for everybody and every generation.”

    “He’s a strong guy, strong-willed and has always been that way since I’ve known him,” Irving said. “He’s a strong person, I think the way he did it is a true test of his character and it’s big time. I’m happy for him.”
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    Apr 10, 2014 5:00 PM GMT
    You too, MKG!

    Charlotte ObserverMassachusetts guard Derrick Gordon, a high-school teammate of Charlotte Bobcats forward Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, announced publicly Wednesday he is gay, becoming the first male Division I basketball player to do so.

    Before Wednesday’s game against the Washington Wizards, Kidd-Gilchrist released the following statement through the Bobcats:

    “Derrick was a great teammate and is an even better friend. I admire his courage and willingness to share his story. Just as we supported each other on the court, I am proud to support him now. He is a basketball player, a teammate and a friend, and that’s all that matters.”

    Kidd-Gilchrist, Gordon and Cleveland Cavaliers star Kyrie Irving all played together at St. Patrick High School in Elizabeth, N.J. Kidd-Gilchrist went on to win a national championship in his only season at Kentucky before being drafted by the Bobcats No. 2 overall in 2012.
  • metta

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    May 06, 2014 2:15 AM GMT
    Derrick Gordon, 1st Out Gay NCAA Basketball Player, Dating 'CSI' Star!

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    May 07, 2014 6:47 PM GMT
    "Wait... so you're NOT the Dos Equis Guy?" icon_razz.gif

    Hey it's legal, so go for it, DG! #unneededstampofapproval

    It's kinda cool that the biggest outcry from the keyboard commentariat, by default, is over the age-gap (not here, just... elsewhere). People's random hangups over race and orientation took a backseat as soon as the pictures dropped.
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    May 21, 2014 12:30 PM GMT

    Good long read from Deadspin, about how Athlete Ally, in getting overzealous, virtually outed Gordon while he was preparing to come out publicly (this was after his family and teammates were told):

    Deadspin"We have been privy to confidential info," read the email, sent to UMass administrators, coaches, even some of Gordon's fellow students. "A UMass basketball player is coming out as gay next week."

    When John Sinnett, UMass's associate director of media relations, received the email, he was in the midst of balancing Gordon's wish for secrecy with the need to prepare for the coming press storm. Sinnett was aghast: "Were they really going to people and telling them Derrick is gay before he's ready to come out?"

    There was general bafflement in the UMass athletics department, not to mention anger among those who were walking Gordon through the most trying time of his life. But for Gordon himself, more than anything else, the email hurt. It had been forwarded to him by a UMass administrator, and Gordon showed it to his mentor Anthony Nicodemo, a recently out high school basketball coach who had spent months with Gordon trying to prepare him for the spotlight, always assuring him that his coming out would happen only on his terms. Gordon had one question for Nicodemo: "Why would they do this?"

    Athlete Ally's actions exposed a rift that led to the ousting (I'm guessing, temporarily) of the group from the recently-organized LGBT Sports Coalition. The org had a relationship with UMass students/staff already, and looked to take advantage of that, but didn't coordinate well with Coalition members in advance of their e-mails to UMass athletic department officials, specifically some who didn't know (and weren't expected to know, yet).

    Through admins forwarding Athlete Ally's e-mail to figure out who in the department already knew about the situation, UMass staffers and some student interns found out a player on the hoops team was coming out soon, opening up unnecessary speculation. The fallout from what appeared, to Gordon, to be an intentional leak compromised his relationship with individuals he entrusted to keep his coming out process a momentary secret.

    Hudson Taylor and the Athlete Ally board just need to reconfigure their external communication procedures. And the LGBT Sports Coalition needs to either consolidate (and include their straight allies in the consolidation) or greatly improve their coordination practices when they're apprised of an athlete like Gordon wanting to come out but on his/her own terms.

    I think Athlete Ally goofed bigtime, but in an electronic information age, it's The New Normal whenever an individual in the public eye (athlete, celebrity, politician, media member, etc.) begins the coming out process. Someone, somewhere, is going to spill the beans thinking that, because they now personally know, everyone already knows, or should know as well.

    Related: Last fall, Patrick Burke stepped aside as the director of You Can Play, and encouraged straight athletic allies to begin to move out of the media spotlight, in deference to already out LGBT athletes.

    Patrick Burke, via OutsportsPutting it in sports terms, the men's professional sports world has named Burke, McQuade, and Taylor the starters. Billy Bean, Jason Collins, David Testo, Robbie Rogers, Esera Tuaolo, Dave Kopay, Kwame Harris and John Amaechi have all been put on the second team. With a growing number of out athletes in every sport, there are LGBT athletes ready, willing, and able to speak on their own behalf. Why am I explaining what it must feel like to be a gay athlete when I am surrounded by dozens of gay athletes more than capable of sharing their own stories? Where are our gay voices, and why are we suffocating them?