“I am the first Division 1 male basketball player to come out and not the last. I AM gay. I’m not afraid. I’m not alone,” Derrick Gordon, of the University of Massachusetts, says in a post on Twitter.
In an interview with ESPN, Gordon, a 22-year-old shooting guard, says that his teammates weren’t surprised when he told them in the locker room, adding, “They were more like, ’bout time you admit it.’”
He adds, “It was all, like, ‘We’re going to support you no matter what, we’re going to be there for you, and this doesn’t change anything.’” Gordon told ESPN that that’s the reaction he was hoping for. “I don’t want them to feel that they have to act a different way around me.”
Gordon says his mother and older brother took the news in stride and his father has come around, but his twin brother has had a difficult time, at one point suggesting counselling. Gordon says his twin is “starting to come around.”
The New Jersey native says he reached out in 2013 to the You Can Play project, which works to combat homophobia in sport, liaising with executive director Wade Davis, who put him in touch with a network of allies.
Gordon says he also drew inspiration from the Brooklyn Nets’ signing of gay NBA player Jason Collins in February. “That was so important to me, knowing that sexuality didn’t matter, that the NBA was OK with it,” he told ESPN.
Collins also tweeted his support for Gordon, writing, “I’m so proud of @flash2gordon. Another brave young man who is going to make it easier for so many others to live an authentic life.”
National Football League prospect Michael Sam, who first spoke publicly about his sexual orientation in February, also took to Twitter in support of Gordon, saying, “Many congratulations to you Derrick Gordon @flash2gordon — you have so many in your corner and we’re all proud and rooting for you.”