Bryon Perkins has made history as the first football player at an HBCU to come out as gay.
On 19 October, the Hampton University student revealed the landmark news in an emotional Instagram story.
“I’ve decided that I’m going to make a change, and stop running away from myself,” the defensive back wrote.
“I’m gay, let it be known that this is not a “decision” or a “choice.” Yes, this is who I am, this is who I’ve been, and this is who I’m going to be. Simply put, I am who I am.
“For the friends and family that have known and supported me to this point, thank you, and for the friends and family that I will lose… Thank you too. You have all helped me in the process of building the young man I am today.”
Perkin’s groundbreaking announcement has made him the first openly gay active football player within the historically Black colleges and universities (HBCU) athletic system.
In an additional interview with OutSports, the Virginia-based student gave further insight into his journey and what spurred his groundbreaking announcement.
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“I’ve been self-reflective and trying to prioritise what makes me happy and makes me feel alive. I thought it could just be football and school, but there was a component missing,” he explained.
“And recently, I’ve been able to figure out that I haven’t been fully happy because everyone didn’t know who I was. Authenticity is everything to me.”
The Hampton’s junior also opened up his hopes to be an example to other Black gay athletes who may be struggling with their identity.
“Especially at an HBCU, young black gay men need an outlet. They need a support system. There hasn’t been an out gay football athlete at an HBCU,” he told the news outlet.
“I want to end the stigma of what people think. I want people to know they can be themselves. It’s about that kid who’s going to see this and think he can be himself too.”
Perkins now joins a growing list of football players who came out during their collegiate careers – including Kansas State’s Scott Frantz, Capital University’s Wyatt Pertuset and Northwood University’s Jacob Van Ittersum, to name a few.
Congratulations are in order for Byron Perkins.