Why Derrick Gordon Coming Out Of The Closet Is Newsworthy

by Dian Reid-Jancic· Follow Dian on

Derrick Gordon comes out of the closet.This morning I scrolled through Twitter to find the news my wife had just shared with me, that University of Massachusetts guard Derrick Gordon had come out. Gordon is the first NCAA Division I basketball player to come out of the closet as gay, so it’s big news in my world.

As I watched his interview with Kate Fagan on ESPN.com wherein he shares various parts of his coming out story, including how he came out to his teammates, I thought, “This is so great for our community!”

I returned to Twitter to be reminded that this isn’t the sentiment everywhere.



For me and my part, this is how I chose to respond:

I truly hope that, in time, coming out—and a person’s sexuality, in general—becomes a nonissue and ceases to be a newsworthy announcement. But that’s not the case today.

Today it’s important. Today it’s news. Today it’s making history to come out in college when you’re the star guard of a Division I basketball team that just made it to the NCAA Tournament.

It’s news because it’s a big deal to openly share something about yourself that people will hate you for sharing and being. It’s news because it offers courage and inspiration to those who are still hiding in the closet.

Derrick Gordon credits Jason Collins with inspiring and giving him the courage to come out and be open about his sexuality.

The thing is, it’s not the sexuality that’s important. It’s the coming out. It’s the honesty. It’s the not hiding. Hiding and keeping secrets can be hazardous to your health. The bigger the secret and the longer you hide it, the more harm it can do.

Coming out isn’t about sharing with the world, “Hey world, look at me! I want you to know that I want to have sex with a gender you don’t approve of, and I don’t care what you think, so SUCK IT!”

Coming out is about not hiding. It’s about breaking down the social assumptions our family, friends, peers, and strangers have made about us. It’s about not contributing to those assumptions, either by lying by omission or outright lying. (And lying is as bad as keeping secrets, as far as the brain and your health are concerned.)

Coming out is about breathing fresh air into our hearts and lungs and sanity. Even when it may not feel that way to the general public (or even friends and family). But that’s just it. We don’t come out for you, we come out for ourselves. In that sense, it really isn’t news.

Except that today, it is.

I hope Gordon’s coming out—his kind demeanor, strong sense of self, and bravery in speaking the truth about himself—serves as inspiration to gay youth everywhere and sets an example of how to respect yourself and those around you by simply being honest about who you are.

Imagine a world where we all felt safe enough to be ourselves.

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