Openly gay NCAA player on coming out
by Scott Gleeson, USA TODAY Sports
Jallen Messersmith has been hearing gay slurs all his life.
They first started in middle school when the bullying was so brutal that he decided to be home-schooled in 7th and 8th grade.
He still hears the “you’re gay” and “that’s gay” and other slurs. He’s even heard them from his teammates.
Messersmith, a 6-foot-7 college basketball player for Benedictine College in Atchison, Kan., is believed to be the first openly gay active player in U.S. men’s college basketball. Messersmith told USA TODAY Sports on Wednesday that he informed his coaches of his sexual orientation last summer before revealing he was gay to his teammates before last season. Outsports.com first reported the story.
Messersmith, who was fourth in NAIA in shot blocking as sophomore, recalled his friend and teammate, Brett Fisher, once saying a gay slur nonchalantly in passing. Fisher almost immediately apologized, not wanting to offend his friend. That was the first time the two friends addressed Messersmith’s sexual orientation.
“There was never a big sit-down with my teammates where I was like, ‘Here’s the thing, I’m gay.’ I sort of just let the news spread,” said Messersmith, 20, from Blue Springs, Mo. “Everybody eventually knew it, it was understood.”
“My teammates have been so supportive. They were like, ‘Dude, it doesn’t change anything. It’s not something you can change. If you’re comfortable, I’m comfortable.’ They’ve told me that they have my back if I ever need it.”
Messersmith’s announcement comes on the heels of Jason Collins coming out as the first actively gay NBA player, WNBA player Brittney Griner telling USA TODAY Sports she was a lesbian, and openly-gay U.S. soccer player Robbie Rogers returning to the MLS.
“It’s been really comforting to see other (athletes) be comfortable in themselves with who they are,” Messersmith said. “It’s happening more and more. Sooner or later, a player being gay is not going to be a big deal.”
Messersmith said he first started to feel “different” in high school but that it wasn’t until one of his teammates died in a car accident that he was inspired to fully accept and open … [For more on Openly gay men's college basketball player on coming out, click here.]