Byron Perkins, a junior at Hampton University, has come out as gay becoming the first out football player at a Historically Black College or University (HBCU).
In his Instagram story on Wednesday, the 6’3″ defensive back said: “I have come to understand that life is precious and I could be gone at any moment, therefore, I will no longer be living a lie. No one should have to live a life crippled by what society thinks.”
“I’ve decided that I’m going to make a change, and stop running away from myself,” he added. “I’m gay, let it be known that this is not a ‘decision’ or a ‘choice.’ Yes, this is who I am, this is who I’ve been, and this is who I’m going to be. Simply put, I am who I am.”
Speaking with Cyd Ziegler of OutSports, Perkins says he came out in part to “help end the stigma of what people think” and break down the closet door for other Black gay male athletes in the closet.
“Especially at an HBCU, young Black gay men need an outlet,” Perkins told Zeigler. “They need a support system. There hasn’t been an out gay football athlete at an HBCU. I want to end the stigma of what people think. I want people to know they can be themselves.”
The 1st out gay football player at a D1 HBCU, Byron Perkins told Outsports he's aware of his impact.
"There hasn’t been an out gay football athlete at an HBCU. I want to end the stigma of what people think. I want people to know they can be themselves."https://t.co/yMyp07v1Ou pic.twitter.com/ygOm2OqLxI
— Outsports (@outsports) October 20, 2022
More from his Instagram story via Outsports:
I have been told on many occasions that I walk around a look as if I’m upset. This is not because I am an angry person, but because I have put on a mask, a mask that has restricted me. Today, I am destroying that mask.
For the friends and family that have known and supported me to this point, thank you, and for the friends and family that I will lose… Thank you too. You have all helped me in the process of building the young man I am today.
Perkins also shared that living without ‘authenticity’ made him realize there was something missing in his life.
“I’ve been self-reflective and trying to prioritize what makes me happy and makes me feel alive,” Perkins explained. “I thought it could be just football and school, but there was a component missing. And recently I’ve been able to figure out that I haven’t been fully happy because everyone didn’t know who I was. Authenticity is everything to me.”
According to Outsports, Perkins has 16 tackles, two deflected passes and one interception this season. The Hampton Pirates (Division I Colonial Athletic Association) are 4-2 this season so far.
Congrats Byron Perkins on living life out loud.