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Updated Apr 30, 2015 - 2:40 pm

UMass basketball player Derrick Gordon announces he’s gay

AMHERST, Mass. — UMass guard Derrick Gordon has become the first openly
gay player in Division I men’s basketball.

Gordon made the announcement in interviews with ESPN and Outsports on
Wednesday. Gordon said he gained confidence by seeing an NBA team sign Jason
Collins, who became the league’s first openly gay player when he joined the
Brooklyn Nets this season.

“I want to be myself,” Gordon said in the interview televised on ESPN. “I
don’t want to hide and be someone I’m not.”

The sophomore was the Minutemen’s fourth-leading scorer with 9.4 points per
game last season, when UMass reached the NCAA tournament for the first time
since 1998. A transfer from Western Kentucky, Gordon played at high school
powerhouse St. Patrick in New Jersey.

In the Outsports interview, Gordon said he considered quitting basketball last
fall and isolated himself from teammates because of teasing. Over the summer, he
had “liked” a photo on Instagram of him and his then-boyfriend in front of gay
bar.

“I just wanted to run and hide somewhere,” he said. “I used to go back to my
room and I’d just cry.”

Gordon was also inspired by spending time with several gay people in the world
of sports in March, according to the Outsports article, and decided to come out
to his family and then the Minutemen.

Once he opened up to his teammates, they were encouraging. In the ESPN
interview, he recalled that they told him: “We’re going to support you no
matter what.”

Coach Derek Kellogg told ESPN that he could already see a newfound happiness in
Gordon.

“I haven’t felt like this. Ever,” Gordon said in the Outsports interview.
“It’s a lot of weight lifted off my shoulders. I can finally breathe now and
live life happily.”

Collins made a trailblazing announcement last April when he came out in an
interview with Sports Illustrated. In February, he became the first openly gay
male athlete in the four major North American pro sports leagues.

Michael Sam, an All-American defensive end at Missouri, came out in interviews
with ESPN, The New York Times and Outsports in February after his college career
ended. He is projected as a middle-round prospect in next month’s NFL draft.

Sam tweeted congratulations to Gordon after the announcement: “You have so
many in your corner and we’re all proud and rooting for you.”

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