AMHERST, Mass., April 9 (UPI) -- UMass guard Derrick Gordon is the first openly gay Division I basketball player after he announced publicly in an interview with ESPN Wednesday.
Gordon told ESPN's Kate Hagan that the decision to come out was difficult, but he feels good about it now. He had distanced himself from his team for weeks in fear of backlash from his teammates.
"I've lived my life hiding behind somebody who I wasn't," he said. "I wasn't really that close to anybody on this team because there was something I had to hide. So I distanced myself as soon as I got here, and nobody knew why I was doing that."
He said that once he told his team though, after the initial surprise, they told him that they support him no matter what and his coming out "doesn't change anything." UMass basketball coach Derek Kellogg tweeted his support for Gordon after the announcement and said they were "proud of him."
I have the most profound respect for Derrick and the decision he has made to come out publicly.— Derek Kellogg (@CoachKellogg) April 9, 2014
He is a model student, a terrific competitor, but most importantly, he is a wonderful human being.— Derek Kellogg (@CoachKellogg) April 9, 2014
Gordon says that many people he told had already suspected, and that though some were initially hesitant, his friends and family came around and told him they support him. His twin brother was surprised and is starting to accept his brother's sexuality.
Gordon's announcement comes after Jason Collins, the first NBA basketball player to come out as gay, made his announcement. Gordon said after Collins came out, he wanted to come out the next day. After coming out, Gordon said he spoke to Collins, who advised him and gave his support.
"Yeah, there's going to be people out there who says this and that," said Gordon. "But it's not going to affect me. I know who I am and I'm happy with who I am."