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UMass Guard Derrick Gordon Is College Basketball’s First Openly Gay Player

By / 04.09.14
Derrick Gordon

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Only several days after telling his parents, University of Massachusetts guard Derrick Gordon received some help from his coach, Derek Kellogg, in announcing to his teammates that he is gay. In fact, Kellogg actually first informed the Minutemen that he was gay, much to their astonishment, before Gordon immediately stepped in and corrected him, letting his teammates know that he had come out. This took place on April 2, but Gordon had been meeting with and seeking advice from You Can Play’s Wade Davis and openly gay basketball coach Anthony Nicodemo for the past year, according to ESPN W.

Through those men, Gordon was able to meet Brooklyn Nets center Jason Collins, and all three of them helped mentor Gordon and make him comfortable with coming out, the same way that NFL prospect and Missouri Tigers star Michael Sam did in February. Once the Minutemen had been eliminated from the NCAA Tournament, Gordon began thinking about the next step, and that’s what led to the unexpected team meeting last week.

“I was thinking about summer plans and just being around my teammates and how it was going to be,” Gordon said. “I just thought, ‘Why not now? Why not do it in the offseason when it’s the perfect time to let my teammates know and everybody know my sexuality.”

Once Gordon made that decision, he leaned heavily on the network of mentors he had developed.

“It was a rough process, actually, leading up to this. Those guys just helped me get to where I am right now,” Gordon said. “If it wasn’t for them, I’d be stuck. For this to be happening right now, me coming out, it’s an indescribable feeling, honestly. I couldn’t be any happier. I feel like I can fly.” (Via ESPN W)

According to the story, it seems that Gordon’s teammates and the team staff and trainers are 100 percent supportive of his decision and lifestyle. As for telling his parents only a few days earlier, it was more of a game of 20 questions, and it didn’t take long for his mom to put Gordon on the spot.

Are you in trouble? Are you sick? Have you been kicked off the basketball team?

Finally, on the seventh or eighth guess, his mother, Sandra, asked the question he was hoping she would ask.

“Are you gay?”

“And I hopped on it real quick,” Gordon said. “I said, ‘Yes, that’s it.’ And she just looked at me and froze. She was shocked a little bit, but she also said she knew a little bit, too. That’s what surprised me, honestly. But, like they always say, mothers know.”

There’s so much more to Gordon’s story than just the revelation to his teammates and parents, including his fraternal twin brother’s suggestion that maybe he needed counseling, and the fact that he’s still focused on playing in the NBA. It’s a pretty great read, and he seems like he’s genuinely relieved and confident to be out and open with not only his team, but everyone else now.

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TAGSBASKETBALLCollege Basketballcoming outDERRICK GORDONgayNCAA BASKETBALLUMASS MINUTEMEN

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