The 28-year-old defensive lineman for the Las Vegas Raiders is inspiring folks off the field too and making big changes within the National Football League. On June 21st, active NFL player Carl Nassib came out as gay by posting a video on his Instagram page with a heartfelt letter. In it, he talks about the “agonizing” decision to publicly come out and how in spite of that, he was received with love and support by his community.
Nassib also took this opportunity to partner with the Trevor Project — a non-profit organization dedicated to servicing the LGBTQ+ community — and share some of their resources.
"I feel an immense responsibility to help in any way I can and you can too. Studies have shown that all it takes is one accepting adult to decrease the risk of an LGBTQ kid attempting suicide by 40%. Whether you're a friend, a parent, a coach, or a teammate - you can be that person,” Nassib wrote on Instagram.
The Raiders published a statement in support of Nassib following his coming out, sending a wave of support to the greater LGBTQ+ community in the world of professional sports. Since then, the NFL has been active in showing support for their LGBTQ+ fanbase. On Sunday, the league aired a “Football is Gay” — led by Carl Nassib — commercial that showed unconditional acceptance of the community.
Sam Rapoport, the NFL senior director of diversity, equity, and inclusion, told Outsports, “I am proud of the clear message this spot sends to the NFL’s LGBTQ+ fans: This game is unquestionably for you.”
The NFL doesn't have a great track record of being on the right side of history. Their poor response to the Black Lives Matter movement and Colin Kaepernick was disappointing— and they still have a lot of progress to be made — but we are celebrating their choice to do the right thing at this moment and are hopeful for more in the future. This landmark decision for the league is being applauded as the beginning of the NFL embracing more LGBTQ+ players and showing open and unconditional support to the community at large.
Going forward, the NFL is encouraging every member of their fan base to support the LGBTQ+ MOVEMENT. “It’s OK to not fully understand the LGBTQ+ experience for you to be an ally. You don’t need to be an expert in all the terms. You just need to try,” Rapoport told USA TODAY Sports.
You can follow Carl Nassib's lead by making a donation to The Trevor Project too.