UCenter for Sports
Information for lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender sports fans and athletes. Ubuntu goal is to develop an active role in sports in the Chicago land area. This includes taking part in LGBT-SGL sports programs across Chicago and developing teams that are support by the Ubuntu Community Center.
When there are moments in history that will change the way we are looked by society usually they are made as bold such as the people who fought with Dr. King in boycotts during the civil rights moment or steadfast as Malcolm X standing up and telling us by any means necessary or even as tragic as death of Trayvon Martin but for those in the Black LGBT community the announcement by Derrick Gordon, a sophomore starter for the University of Massachusetts men's basketball team on Wednesday taking his place as the first openly gay male NCAA Division 1 basketball player resonant far beyond his reach.
"For my whole life I've been living my life as a lie. I am telling my story so that athletes never feel like they have to hide. You can be true to yourself and play the sport that you love." For Derrick this may a declaration of freedom for many young men and women of color this was being taken off life support and allowed to breath on your own. This was the moment that many who still live in the shadows can walk into the open and take a deep breath.
Gordon told ESPN that when Jason Collins, the first openly gay NBA player was signed to a 10-day contract in February by the Brooklyn Nets it laid a foundation for him to imagine why not him. Sure Collins shook up the sports world when he came out last May but Gordon may have just shaken up American society. "That was so important to me, knowing that sexuality didn't matter, that the NBA was OK with it," Gordon said.
According to OutSports, before coming out of the closet, Gordon had been "struggling with teasing from teammates and internal torment that nearly drove him from basketball." He was afraid he might be recognized at gay bars or that his friends might see a message from an ex-boyfriend.
Millions of young people can now see it is not impossible to take off the mask and still be a baller, still not fit into the stereotypes that others place on you or do. They can begin to to see that they can let people see who you are. Although it may not happen overnight, the change is coming, the change is marching forward, the change begun with a word from a young man afraid of being seen in a club where he felt he could be himself by letting us into his world and telling us this is who I am.
When Gordon broke the news to his teammates, there "wasn't a dry eye in the room," as teammates realized the effect their teasing had had.
Gordon's coach, Derek Kellogg says "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. Derrick is a first-class representative of this university and this program since he joined us and we are all very proud of him.”
Former NFL player Wade Davis was influential in guiding Gordon through the progression of deciding to come out and was there with him when he faced his team.
"I was deeply moved watching Derrick open his heart to his UMass basketball family," said Davis in a statement. "His desire to invite his teammates into his life speaks to how athletes view their teammates as their family. I love being a part of an organization that continues to foster the creation of safe spaces for all individuals to be their authentic selves." Davis organization You Can Play helps young athletes deal with issues around sexuality.
To Derrick Gordon we salute you and for those who follow you and Jason Collins and Michael Sams, we say thank you for saving even one life that might have been left on the pile of self-loathing.