Las Vegas Raiders' Carl Nassib Makes History as NFL's First Active Openly Gay Player

Football player Carl Nassib said he's experiencing "gratitude and relief" after coming out as a member of the LGBTQ+ community. Keep reading for his pledge to cultivate a more "compassionate" world.

By Elana Rubin Jun 21, 2021 11:41 PMTags
Watch: NFL Star Carl Nassib Comes Out as Gay & Shows Support In a Big Way

NFL star Carl Nassib is celebrating Pride Month with a historic announcement. 

The Las Vegas Raiders defensive end publicly came out as a member of the LGBTQ+ community on Monday, June 21, becoming the first-ever athlete to do so while an active member of the league. 

"Right now, I am sitting in a moment of gratitude and relief," he started his Instagram post. "Sadly, I have agonized over this moment for the last 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'm gay."

Nassib thanked the NFL, his coaches and teammates "for their support," writing, "I would not have been able to do this without them. From the jump, I was greeted with the utmost respect and acceptance."

The 28-year-old then acknowledged those who may not share in his positive experience, before adding, "I stand on the shoulders of giants, incredible people who paved the way for me to have this opportunity. I do not know all the history behind our courageous LGBTQ community, but I am eager to learn and to help continue the fight for equality and acceptance."

Stars Celebrate LGBTQ+ Pride Month 2021

In a separate video shared alongside his statement, Nassib recognized the importance of representation within sports such as football and shared his decision to donate $100,000 to The Trevor Project, a non-profit that focuses on suicide prevention among LGBTQ+ youth. 

As he explained, "I'm a pretty private person so I hope you guys know that I'm really not doing this for attention. I just think that representation and visibility are so important. I actually hope that, like, one day, videos like this and the whole coming-out process are just not necessary." 

Until then, Nassib said he's dedicated to cultivating a more "accepting" and "compassionate" culture. 

The Twitter account for the Las Vegas Raiders, which Nassib joined in 2020 under a reported $25 million contract, re-posted his statement and wrote, "Proud of you, Carl." Additionally, NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell celebrated Nassib's news.

"The NFL family is proud of Carl for courageously sharing his truth today. Representation matters," a statement read. "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. We wish Carl the best of luck this coming season."

Long before Nassib came out, another NFL player—Michael Sam—did in 2014. At the time, Sam was drafted to the Saint Louis Rams, but was not yet an active player in the league. Sam's coming out was historic in that he was the first drafted NFL player to share that he was part of the LGBTQIA+ community.