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Raiders’ Carl Nassib is First Active NFL Player to Come Out as Gay

Las Vegas Raiders' defensive lineman, Carl Nassib, is now the first active NFL player in league history to come out as gay. 

Las Vegas Raiders’ defensive lineman, Carl Nassib, is now the first active NFL player in league history to come out as gay. 

Here’s what Nassib’s Instagram post said:

“What’s up, people. I’m Carl Nassib. I’m at my house here in West Chester, Pennsylvania. I just wanted to take a quick moment to say that I’m gay. I’ve been meaning to do this for a while now, but I finally feel comfortable enough to get it off my chest.”

Nassib been in the NFL for five years with three different teams. First, he was drafted out of Penn State by the Cleveland Browns during the third round of the 2016 NFL draft. He only played for the Browns in 2016-2017 and then moved on to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in 2018 and 2019. After that, he was signed by the Raiders as an unrestricted free agent in 2020. 

He noted that he is a private person, and his intentions weren’t to seek publicity. He also stated:

“I just think that representation and visibility are so important,” he said. “I actually hope that one day videos like this and the whole coming out process are just not necessary. But until then, I’m going to do my best and do my part to cultivate a culture that’s accepting, that’s compassionate.”

What Has the Response to Carl Nassib Coming Out Been Like?

NFL commissioner Roger Goodell hailed Nassib’s announcement. He said:

“The NFL family is proud of Carl for courageously sharing his truth today,” Goodell said. “Representation matters. We share his hope that someday soon statements like his will no longer be newsworthy as we march toward full equality for the LGBTQ+ community. We wish Carl the best of luck this coming season.”

Penn State football head coach James Franklin had this to say about his former player:

“I am very proud of Carl for his courage and voice. This announcement doesn’t surprise me because if you know Carl, you know his strength. Carl’s story continues to add chapters which will have an impact well beyond the field of play,” he said in a statement. “His care and love for those around him, particularly those in need, has always been obvious. … Carl’s brave announcement will forge a path for others to be true to their authentic self.”

Nassib’s Raiders teammates also showed their support for Nassib.

Pro Football Hall of Famer Warren Moon also added his voice to the conversation, with some words on Twitter:

“As long as they helped us win and were great teammates- their sexual preference was never a issue. We live in a different time now where diversity is much more accepted. Cheers Carl, and I hope this lets other athletes know, its OK to say who you are.”

This support has helped Nassib in his coming-out journey. In an Instagram statement, Nassib thanked his loved ones, coaches, other players, and the league. “I would not have been able to do this without them. From the jump, I was greeted with the utmost respect and acceptance.”

Nassib also wrote:

“I do not know all the history behind our courageous LGBTQ community, but I am eager to learn and to help continue the fight for equality and acceptance.”

Will Carl Nassib Coming Out Have a Significant Impact?

GLAAD CEO and president Sarah Kate Ellis said that Nassib coming out would be a strong statement.

“Carl Nassib’s powerful coming out is a historic reflection of the growing state of LGBTQ visibility and inclusion in the world of professional sports, which has been driven by a long list of brave LGBTQ athletes who came before him.

As an accomplished athlete who is now the first out gay active player in the NFL, Carl Nassib’s story will not only have a profound impact on the future of LGBTQ visibility and acceptance in sports, but sends a strong message to so many LGBTQ people, especially youth, that they too can one day grow up to be and succeed as a professional athlete like him.”

How Else Has Carl Nassib Contributed to the LGBTQ+ Community?

Nassib said that he would be donating $100,000 to The Trevor Project. This organization provides suicide and crisis intervention for LGBTQ+ youth. He said in his statement that he was concerned that LGBTQ+ youth are at a higher risk for suicide.

According to Amit Paley, CEO and executive director of The Trevor Project, the donation will be beneficial in increasing crisis services.

She said in a statement to CNN:

“The Trevor Project is grateful to Carl Nassib for living his truth and supporting LGBTQ youth. Coming out is an intensely personal decision, and it can be an incredibly scary and difficult one to make. We hope that Carl’s historic representation in the NFL will inspire young LGBTQ athletes across the country to live their truth and pursue their dreams.

At a time when state lawmakers are actively trying to restrict transgender and nonbinary youth’s participation in school sports, this news should serve as a clarion call for greater LGBTQ inclusion in the locker room and on the field.”

Have There Been Other Openly Gay Players That Weren’t on an Active NFL Roster?

In 2014, Michael Sam was the first openly gay player selected in the NFL draft. The St. Louis Rams chose him as the 249th pick in the seventh round. However, the Rams cut Sam before the season began. He was also signed onto the Dallas Cowboys practice squad but never selected on the active roster. He was then cut from the team after six weeks.

Other NFL players that were inactive and who came out after retirement included former Dallas Cowboys linebacker, Jeff Rohrer. He got married to Joshua Ross in 2018.

Read more: 6 Reasons Why People Are Afraid of Coming Out to Friends and Families 

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Billie Olsen

MODEL: Billie Olsen

Billie Olsen (she/they) is a lifestyle writer, disability justice advocate, and cozy femme located in Kelowna, BC, Canada. Their works have appeared in Metro News, Discorder, Sophomore Magazine, the Post-Feminist Post, DINE Magazine, and NerdReader.