In the NFL’s entire history, only 15 players have come out as gay or bi, none while being on an active roster. As of today, that is no longer the case. Former Nittany Lion and current Las Vegas Raiders player Carl Nassib announced via his instagram that he is gay.
The Raiders, for their part expressed full support (through a comment in his instagram post, as well as their own tweet below), which goes a long way in providing the reassurance Carl likely needs in crucial moment of his life.
The NFL also expressed their support for Carl, sending out a tweet of their own expressing it.
.@Raiders DE Carl Nassib announced today that he’s gay. He also shared he's donating $100,000 to the @TrevorProject, a suicide prevention organization for LGBTQ youth.— NFL (@NFL) June 21, 2021
The NFL family is proud of you, Carl. ❤️ pic.twitter.com/HXbcBuLg2X
Nassib said he agonized for 15 years over this decision, which he was finally able to make with the help of friends and family, and the support of folks in the NFL and his team. He is also partnering with The Trevor Project, which helps provide suicide prevention services for youth in the LGBTQ+ community.
Nassib goes on to mention the rate of suicide among LGBTQ+ community, but, more importantly, how massive a difference having a representative adult makes in a young person’s life. In fact, the risk of suicide in the LGBTQ+ community is reduced by 40% with a supporting adult.
The importance of this decision cannot be understated. Representation matters, and having someone who is like you showing you the example that you belong is paramount in believing you can accomplish what you set out to do, and more importantly, can be the difference between life and death.
There is a young boy out there who will choose to play football because of this message. Because, he now can look up to someone who has come out and is actually playing in the NFL, and not just being supported by the NFL. There are many more who are currently playing for a team, whether at the high school, college, and pro level, that is looking at this and saying to themselves, “I can do it too.”