Las Vegas Raiders’ Carl Nassib coming out as gay and LGBTQ+ representation in the NFL

Ruben Banuelos, Staff Writer

Las Vegas Raiders’ defensive end Carl Nassib came out as gay in a video shared to his Instagram profile on June 21 which shifted the culture of the NFL.
Nassib is the NFL’s first active player to come out publicly but is one of a few who have come out as part of the LGBTQ+ community within the college and professional football world.
A leap forward not only for Nassib and his life but also for the NFL in hopes of LGBTQ+ representation in the league becoming more of a normality.
“I’m at my house here 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 finally, feel comfortable enough to get it off my chest. I really have the best life, I’ve got the best family, friends, and job a guy can ask for,” Nassib said.
Players from around the league spread their support for Nassib. Fellow Arizona Cardinals pass rusher J.J. Watt wrote in a tweet, “Good for you Carl. Glad you feel comfortable enough to share and hopefully someday these types of announcements will no longer be considered breaking news.”
John Gruden, head coach of the Raiders, stated in response to Nassib’s video, “I learned a long time ago what makes a man different is what makes him great,” according to Paul Gutierrez.
Nassib received clear support from his head coach in addition to the league. “The NFL family is proud of Carl for courageously sharing his truth today, Representation matters,” Commissioner of the NFL Roger Goodell said.
Before Nassib, Michael Sam, former NFL defensive end for the St. Louis Rams, was the first openly gay player to be drafted. Though, Sam ultimately didn’t make the final roster. LGBTQ+ representation within the league is uncommon and most of the players who have publicly stated that they were part of the LGBTQ+ community had already been out of the league as former or retired players. Nassib being able to speak his truth makes representation within the league a step in the right direction.
Representation, including race, has been in the discussion of the league for years prior. Former 49ers’s quarterback turned civil rights activist Colin Kaepernick took a knee during the national anthem of a preseason game to protest racial inequality and police brutality. “I am not going to stand up to show pride in a flag for a country that oppresses black people and people of color,” Kaepernick stated in an interview with NFL Media.
“Very exciting news came out and it was an important moment for those who do pay attention [to] the sport,” Eileen Barrett, an English professor at California State University, East Bay and a proud member of the LGBTQ+ community said. “I’m always excited when a player comes out and embraces his identity and shows representation within the LGBTQ+ community.”
Throughout Nassib’s video, he discussed representation and why it is so important as well as his donation to The Trevor Project.
“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. But until then, I’m going to do my best, and do my part to cultivate a culture that’s accepting, that’s compassionate and I’m going to start by donating $100,000 to The Trevor Project,” Nassib followed in his video.
His partnership with the organization came from him learning about the mission of the company, “Young LGBTQ+ kids are over five times more likely than their straight friends to consider suicide” he said. The Trevor Project is a suicide prevention service for those part of the LGBTQ+ community.
Less than 24 hours after Nassib’s video, the NFL announced that they will be matching Nassib’s donation to The Trevor Project on June 22, “We proudly support the LGBTQ+ community and will continue to work alongside the Trevor Project and our other community partners to further enhance our collective work and commitment to this space.”
Nassib won’t be the last player to step out and embrace their true self and thanks to him. His announcements have echoed throughout the country in hopes of giving people encouragement and comfort. What’s next for Nassib is to keep playing football and start living the life he was meant to live.