Former NCAA Player Talks Being Closeted In Sports

Image via Derrick Gordon & Instagram @itsderrickgordon

Former openly gay basketball player Derrick Gordon is talking about coming out, being a gay and black, and how coming out affected his basketball career.

Back in 2014, Derrick Gordon came out as the first openly gay National Collegiate Athletic Association basketball player. Now, Gordon has retired from the sport and keeps a YouTube channel.

Gordon chose to start the new video by discusses the horrors and trials of being closeted. But first, Gordon shared a story of how he feared being outed.

“It almost feels like it happened yesterday. I’m originally from New Jersey, currently live in LA but originally from New Jersey. And Ashbury Park, they have a gay club out there and it’s called Club Paradise. Back then, it was a safe place for me. I didn’t have to worry about people judging me and everything like that. One night, I was there. It was over the summer. I was dancing, my song was playing, I was getting busy, and I get a phone call. And the phone call is from one of my teammates. This former teammate called me and he asked me where was I. And I say, ‘I’m out at the club.’ And he said, ‘What club.?’

Gordon shares that he didn’t realize the significance of the call until it was over.

“I wasn’t in the right space to take that phone call. So I’m surprised from myself that I even answered the phone. So I said ‘Club Paradise’ and when I said Club Paradise, I could just hear laughing in the background. And the phone went dead. And when I say my heart just completely dropped… I didn’t know what to do.”

Gordon then decided he’d take a picture with a group of girls to spread around. He then tried to show his teammates the picture as a cover for the fact that he was in a gay club. But he knew they didn’t believe it.

“That’s the time that I felt like running away.”

For the rest of the nearly 30-minute video, Derrick talks more about being in the closet, the topic of suicide and recently dealing with a close friend’s death, the struggle of coming out, and how the basketball and greater sports communities reacted to his coming out,

To hear more of his story, click on the video below.

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