In the note Carl Nassib wrote on his coming-out post on Instagram to let the world know that he’s a gay man in the NFL, he wrote how important it was for him to not only come out for his own personal well-being but also hopefully save someone’s life. Nassib donated $100,000 to The Trevor Project and had this to say:
“I was immediately drawn to The Trevor Project when I learned about their mission to provide suicide preventions services to the LGBTQ community. Young LGBTQ kids are over 5x more likely than their straight friends to consider suicide. For someone like me, who has been so lucky and cherishes every day, it brings me incredible sadness to think that our LGBTQ youth are at such an elevated risk for suicide. I feel an immense responsibility to help in any way I can — and you can too. Studies have shown that all it takes is one accepting adult to decrease the risk of an LGBTQ kid attempting suicide by 40%. Whether you’re a friend, a parent, a coach, or a teammate — you can be that person.”Carl Nassib
Pride Month 2021 is winding down, but the Nassib news is so huge moving forward. There has never been an openly-gay player in the NFL before this, and this sort of representation for closeted non-straights ought to metaphorically help open the doors for others to feel safe and secure with their own sexualities.
I hope this leads to more people feeling safe enough to express their sexualities and individual personalities as non-straight athletes through all levels of sports. It might be easy to point to Michael Sam, former linebacker of Missouri that was a unanimous All-American and co-SEC Defensive Player of the Year in 2013*, as a reason for young guys in college to not come out publicly “too soon”. Of the 19 players to win SEC’s Defensive Player of the Year Award since 2002: Sam is the only undrafted player, one player was later picked in the 5th round of his draft, and the rest were 1st and 2nd-round draft picks (but almost all of them were 1st rounders). It’s very convenient to look at Sam’s discouraging situation as a reason to to limit yourself, but Nassib’s impact will hopefully encourage more to be publicly honest with themselves.
I’m trailing off from Nassib’s real point here. There are actual lives at risk here. When an LGBTQ child feels like life isn’t worth living anymore, that’s not a problem the child created and not a problem only the child should fix. That’s everybody’s problem whether they’re that child’s parents, that child’s school principal, that child’s friends, people in advertising, or somebody who posts TikToks that might hit their timelines. Nassib’s necessary donation and statement is a reminder that there are very hard truths when it comes to celebrating Pride, and nobody should feel the desire to commit suicide over this issue, and in a perfect world people shouldn’t have to feel obliged to come out publicly as a call to action.
Homophobia is, was, and will always be an issue that straight people need to fix. Non-straight and non-cis people didn’t create the mistreatment towards themselves. The simple exercise of phrasing gayness as a problem (or straightness to be more celebrated) as America’s normal way of life creates these problems. The harassment, the improper vernacular, the slang, the non-recognition of those who have come out: there’s a lot of bullshit our LGBTQ friends put up with in this country when they really shouldn’t have to.
Homophobia and anti-LGBTQ behavior is lame as hell. Being happy in your own skin is cool as hell and appreciating people for their honest selves is also cool as hell. Congrats to Carl Nassib for expressing his personal self and encouraging others to live life happily.