NFL shares video declaring ‘football is gay’ in response to player coming out

‘LGBTQ+ youth with at least one accepting adult have 40 per cent lower risk of attempting suicide,’ NFL video says as league announces support for gay players

Gustaf Kilander
Washington, DC
@GustafKilander
Tuesday 29 June 2021 15:05
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Related video: Raiders’ Nassib comes out as NFL’s first openly gay player

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The NFL has shared a video declaring that “football is gay” after Carl Nassib became the first active openly gay NFL player following his announcement last week.

The straightforward video consists of white text on a black background, starting with the words “football is gay”. The video continues over a drumming beat with cheering in the background.

“Football is lesbian,” the video adds. “Football is beautiful. Football is queer. Football is life. Football is exciting. Football is culture. Football is transgender. Football is heart. Football is power. Football is tough. Football is bisexual. Football is strong. Football is freedom. Football is American. Football is accepting. Football is everything. Football is for everyone.”

Towards the end, the NFL’s logo is shown in rainbow colours. The league then moved on to promote the Trevor Project – a charity working to prevent suicide among LGBT+ youth. When he announced he was gay, Mr Nassib, a defensive lineman for the Las Vegas Raiders, said he would donate $100,000 to the charity. The NFL has promised to match that donation.

“LGBTQ+ youth with at least one accepting adult have 40 per cent lower risk of attempting suicide,” the NFL video reads towards the end.

Former professional football player Michael Sam came out in 2013, but spent most of his career in the Canadian Football League, and didn’t play for an NFL club during the regular season.

Several retired players, like Wade Davis, Esera Tuaolo, and Ryan O’Callaghan, have come out after ending their NFL careers.

“What’s up, people. I’m Carl Nassib. I’m at my house here in West Chester, Pennsylvania. I just wanted to take a quick moment to say that I’m gay,” Mr Nassib said in an Instagram video last week.

“I’ve been meaning to do this for a while now, but I finally feel comfortable enough to get it off my chest.”

The 28-year-old said he hoped others would not have to make similar announcements in the future.

“I’m a pretty private person so I hope you guys know that I’m really not doing this for attention. I just think that representation and visibility are so important,” he said.

“I actually hope that like one day, videos like this and the whole coming-out process are just not necessary.

“But until then, I’m going to do my best and do my part to cultivate a culture that’s accepting, that’s compassionate, and I’m going to start by donating $100,000 to The Trevor Project.”

NFL release 'Football Is Gay' video in support of Carl Nassib

In a written message online, Mr Nassib said he had “agonised over this moment for the last 15 years” but felt finally comfortable announcing his sexuality with the support of family and friends.

Sharing his written message in a tweet, the official Twitter account of the Las Vegas Raiders posted a black heart symbol and said: “Proud of you, Carl.”

Mr Nassib was also supported by the NFL Player’s Association and some players in the league.

Advocates say it took such a long time for an active gay player to come out because sports generally, and football particularly, represents American masculinity and has been plagued by toxic masculinity and homophobia.

“I remember being at practice and you’re just so hyper-vigilant of everything that you do because there’s a certain type of macho that one knows that they have to perform in order to attempt to be accepted,” Wade Davis, a former NFL star who came out after ending his career, told NPR.

The commissioner of the National Gay Flag Football League, Shigeo Iwamiya, told ABC News that many of their players have chosen to leave regular sports teams because of a problematic culture.

“People feel like, ‘somebody’s checking me out or somebody’s watching me,’” Mr Iwamiya said. “There seems to be the perception of fear of – ‘somehow you’re threatening to me in some way shape or another if you come out.’”

NFL commissioner Roger Goodell welcomed Mr Nassib’s announcement.

“The NFL family is proud of Carl for courageously sharing his truth today. Representation matters,” Mr Goodell said.

“We share his hope that someday soon statements like this will no longer be newsworthy as we march toward full equality for the LGBTQ+ community. We wish Carl the best of luck this coming season,” he added.

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