Carl Nassib posted a coming-out announcement that was 60 seconds of grace under pressure, as though he had been practicing for it all week.
He is, after all, a professional football player. It’s what they do. But after getting right to the point — “I just want to take a quick moment to say that I’m gay” — the 28-year-old Las Vegas Raiders defensive end used his Instagram post to deliver what amounts to an old-fashioned fireside chat.
“I just think that representation and visibility are so important,” he said. “… I actually hope that one day videos like this and the whole coming-out process are just not necessary.”
They’re very much still necessary, of course, and will continue to be necessary for a good number of years. The mere fact that Nassib is the first active NFL player to come out as gay is testament to that. So, yes, Carl Nassib has made history. But he’s also made life a hell of a lot easier for young athletes in men’s team sports who might be considering a big announcement of their own.
Just over 10 years ago, when I was still working for the Boston Herald, I used my column to announce I’m gay. The paper was swell about it all, teasing the column front and back, and there were so many supportive emails, letters and texts that by comparison the smattering of negative messages in the pile just seemed dull and predictable.
One of my favorite memories — and this will take us right back to Carl Nassib — is the pile of invitations I received from Boston’s gay sports community. There’s a softball league, a hockey league, a basketball league, a flag-football league … the list goes on and on. Steve Bithell, who was heading up the flag football league, invited me to do the coin toss at their upcoming Snow Bowl at Moakley Park in Southie. I also heard from Marc Davino, who was simultaneously helping to run the basketball, softball and flag-football leagues.