After coming out as gay to his family, coaches and teammates just a few days ago, 22-year old UMass shooting guard Derrick Gordon decided to tell the rest of the world about his sexuality, following in the footsteps of Brooklyn Nets center Jason Collins, who acknowledged his sexuality last April, and Missouri's Michael Sam, who did the same back in February of this year.
Gordon called Collins' coming out as gay a key moment in his life, stating he felt that Collins' announcement told him that, apparently, sexuality "didn't matter, that the NBA was OK with it."
Gordon's Twitter feed had the following message posted on it earlier today:
"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."
UMass officials immediately came out in support of Gordon's announcement with a statement issued by the school's athletic department.
"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," athletic director John McCutcheon said in the statement. "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."
The response on Twitter was overwhelmingly in favor of Gordon's decision to come out as gay. Among the supporters was his UMass coach Derek Kellogg, who immediately took to the Twitterverse as well to show his support:
"I have the most profound respect for Derrick and the decision he has made to come out publicly."
Following Collins' April, 2013 admission he was gay, Missouri football star Michael Sam came out in February of this year, just months prior to the 2014 NFL draft. Reaction to the announcements was predominantly supportive by both the NBA and NFL and a majority of the sporting public.
While several athletes have admitted to being gay after they've retired from sports, such as former NBA player John Amaechi and former NFL running back Dave Kopay, Collins, Sam and Gordon join Martina Navratilova as the first to make such an announcement while still active in the sports they play.