Carl Nassib has come out as gay, making history in the process as the first active NFL player to do so.
The Las Vegas Raiders defensive spoke about his sexuality this week in an Instagram video, where he told his followers: “What’s up people? I’m at my house 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.
“I really have the best life, the best family, friends and job a guy could ask for. I’m a pretty private person so I hope that you guys know that I’m really not doing this for attention. I just think that representation and visibility are so important.”
The 28-year-old, who made the statement ahead of the 2021 NFL season (which starts 9 September), continued to say that he hopes videos such as his will not be “necessary” one day, “but until then I’m gonna do my best to cultivate a culture that’s accepting and compassionate.”
Nassib has donated $100,000 to The Trevor Project, the leading national organisation providing crisis intervention and suicide prevention services for LGBTQ+ people.
“They’re an incredible organization, they’re the number one suicide-prevention service for LGBTQ youth in America,” said Nassib. “They’re truly doing incredible things. I’m very excited to be a part of it and help in any way that I can and I’m really pumped to see what the future holds.”
There has never been an openly gay player to have played a regular-season game in the NFL. Defensive end Michael Sam came out as gay before he was drafted in 2014, but didn’t make the final roster, while former LA Galaxy and USA footballer Robbie Rogers became the first openly gay man to play in one of the USA’s big five sports leagues.
Alongside his video, Nassib shared a statement in which he detailed his ‘agony’ over being in the closet for the past 15 years. “Only until recently, thanks to my family and friends, especially Connor, Cason and Francis, did it seem possible for me to say publicly and proudly that I am gay,” he revealed.
“I am also incredibly thankful for the NFL, my coaches and fellow player for their support. 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 said he feels “blessed” and “thankful” for all of the support, and while he hasn’t immersed himself in LGBTQ+ culture and history, he is “eager to learn and to help continue the fight for equality and acceptance”.
“Lastly, I hope everyone can understand that I am just one person,” he continued. “I am a lanky walk-on who is living his dream. I only have a small window to achieve greatness in my sport and I owe it to my team, coaches and Raider fans to be completely locked in and at my best for the upcoming season.
“I’m a private person, so I’d ask the media to give me space as I navigate this exciting time in my life. Please do not take it personally if I decline an interview or am unable to answer your questions. Thank you everyone for your support. Happy Pride Month and Go Raiders.”
You can view Carl Nassib’s full Instagram post here or below.
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Mark David, Raiders owner, told the Las Vegas Review-Journal: “These are personal decisions. It’s 2021, and he’s a Raider. If he’s happy, I’m happy. It takes courage. I thought we got to the point where this wasn’t [a prominent news story]. It doesn’t change my opinion of him as a man or as a Raider.”
Roger Goodell, NFL commissioner, added: “The NFL family is proud of Carl for courageously sharing his truth today. 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.”