Las Vegas Raiders defensive end Carl Nassib announced he is gay during a June 21 Instagram video filmed from his home in West Chester, Pennsylvania. Less than 24 hours later, the video had more than 500,000 likes.
“What’s up, people? I’m Carl Nassib. I’m at my house here in West Chester, Pennsylvania. I just wanted to take a quick moment to say that I’m gay,” he said in the video. “I’ve been meaning to do this for a while now, but I finally feel comfortable enough to get it off my chest.”
“I really have the best life. I got the best family, friends and job a guy can ask for. I’m a pretty private person, so I hope you guys know that I’m not doing this for attention. I just think that representation and visibility are so important,” he said.
Outsports reported: “No openly active gay or bi player has ever played a down in an NFL regular-season game. There have been 15 players who came out after playing, or in the case of Michael Sam in 2014, was out after being drafted but never made a roster.”
Is Carl Nassib the first active NFL player to come out as gay?
Yes, technically Carl Nassib is the first active National Football League (NFL) player to come out as gay. In 2014, rookie Michael Sam came out ahead of the NFL draft but never played on a full roster with a professional team.
WHAT WE FOUND
On June 21, Carl Nassib released a video message and accompanying statement announcing he is gay.
Nassib is now the first openly gay active player in the National Football League.
“Carl Nassib’s powerful coming out is a historic reflection of the growing state of LGBTQ visibility and inclusion in the world of professional sports, which has been driven by a long list of brave LGBTQ athletes who came before him,” said GLAAD President & CEO Sarah Kate Ellis in a statement to VERIFY. “As an accomplished athlete who is now the first out gay active player in the NFL, Carl Nassib’s story will not only have a profound impact on the future of LGBTQ visibility and acceptance in sports, but sends a strong message to so many LGBTQ people, especially youth, that they too can one day grow up to be and succeed as a professional athlete like him."
Michael Sam hoped to be the first gay active player when he came out ahead of the 2014-15 season. Sam, a former defensive end out of Missouri was picked by the then-St. Louis Rams, but was later released.
Michael Sam praised Nassib on Twitter, thanking him for also making a $100,000 pledge to The Trevor Project, the “leading national organization providing crisis intervention and suicide prevention services to lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer & questioning (LGBTQ) young people under 25.”
“Carl Nassib thank you for owning your truth and especially your donation to the @TrevorProject. LBGTQ people are more likely to commit suicide than heterosexuals. I hope and pray people will take note to this. Thank you again Carl and look forward to seeing you play on the field,” Sam tweeted on June 22.
A statement from The Trevor Project said: “Coming out is an intensely personal decision, and it can be an incredibly scary and difficult one to make. We hope that Carl’s historic representation in the NFL will inspire young LGBTQ athletes across the country to live their truth and pursue their dreams.
“At a time when state lawmakers are actively trying to restrict transgender and nonbinary youth’s participation in school sports, this news should serve as a clarion call for greater LGBTQ inclusion in the locker room and on the field,” the statement continued.
NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell also praised Nassib, saying: “The NFL family is proud of Carl for courageously sharing his truth today. Representation matters. 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.”
More from VERIFY: The history behind June becoming LGBTQ+ Pride Month