AP Photo/Gerry Broome
Less than two months after Jason Collins signed with the Brooklyn Nets and became the first openly gay athlete in the NBA, a college basketball player has now followed suit.
UMass guard Derrick Gordon made history today when he became the first openly gay active men's player in NCAA Division I basketball.
The 22-year-old athlete first came out to his teammates last week with the support of his coach Derek Kellogg, who broke the ice for Gordon before the basketball star shared his truth with his team.
"Awesome, actually," Gordon said with a smile in an interview with ESPN when asked how he felt after telling his teammates. "I honestly thought I wasn't going to feel this way for three, four years later...me coming out, it's an indescribable feeling, honestly."
Gordon said he teammates were "not surprised" after he came out and they immediately expressed their support for the sports star.
"It was all just like, 'All right, we're going to support you no matter what, we're here for you and this doesn't change anything,'" he said. "And that's what I wanted, I don't want them to feel like they have to act a different way around me or be a different way."
The athlete admits that coming out to his family was no easy task, revealing that his mother said she knew while admitting that it took his father "some time to get over."
Gordon, who has two siblings, including a twin brother, also said his twin "took it harder than his father," but as time when on "he's starting to come around."
"At the end of the day, I want to be myself, I don't want to hide and be somebody that I'm not," he said.
As for how Gordon felt when Collins came out?
"When he came out, I wanted to come out the next day. It was a relief…but I still couldn't jump the gun because he wasn't in the NBA at the time he came out, but when he went back that's when I started to build a little more confidence."
"He's a great guy," he continued. "I got a chance to talk to him and he said he's very proud of me. He said he didn't expect nobody from Division I to be coming out this early so he was just really giving me advice...He gave me the confidence and boost that I need to put me over the top to come out."
Gordon's coach also took to Twitter after the news was made public and expressed his unwavering support for the athlete.
"I have the most profound respect for Derrick and the decision he has made to come out publicly," UMass coach Derek Kellogg tweeted Wednesday. "He is a model student, a terrific competitor, but most importantly, he is a wonderful human being. We know his decision weighed heavily on him for some time, but as a coaching staff, a team and a family, we stressed to him that we support him in every way possible."
"Right now, there's no concerns," Gordon said when asked how he feels about playing in opposing arenas. "I'm in a state of mind where no word or anything could hurt me. I'm just so happy and excited to finally put this out there…just know that nothing is going to change as far as the basketball aspect."
He added, "I just feel like a bunch of weight has been lifted off my shoulders and I can fly."