Derrick Gordon sat waiting outside the film room, his knee bouncing furiously up and down. He had wanted to tell his teammates something for more than a year, and now he was about to say it. And he knew that once he did, a lot of things would be different.
A minute later, the sophomore shooting guard stood and walked into the room, accompanied by University of Massachusetts men’s basketball coach Derek Kellogg. Gordon faced his teammates, a group of guys he liked but had always kept at arm’s length.
That was about to change.
Kellogg spoke first. “We’re all here together, and we need to love each other for who we are,” he said. “One of your family members, your brother, wants to let you know something about himself.”
There was a pause. And then Kellogg, sensing that Gordon needed help, tried breaking the ice. “I wanted to let you all know I’m gay,” the coach said. His players all looked at him, stunned. What?
Gordon took his cue and spoke up.
“No, he’s not. But I am.”
Gordon told his team April 2, a few days after telling his parents and Kellogg. That same week, he sat down to share his story with ESPN and OutSports, becoming the first openly gay male player in Division I basketball. The decision to step forward publicly was a long time in the making for Gordon, a starter who averaged 9.4 points and 3.5 rebounds a game this season.
If that video didn’t get you teary eyed, you may have no soul. Crying himself to sleep. Having to shower by himself. Not being able to relate to the locker room talk about UMass babes. It’s really tragic. When you hear stories like this it makes you realize how brave and courageous it is for an individual to do what DG just did. He is a pioneer, and he certainly won’t be the last gay athlete in college basketball. Generations of young men will have him to thank when their coming out stories are significantly easier.
DG my man, I’m so freaking proud of you, and the Umass community has your back 110%. I’m usually a Derek Kellogg critic too, but I think I just fell in love with him too. The way that story reads gives me chills. The whole thing about brotherhood got to me. Then when DK got up there and DG couldn’t muster the strength to tell Chaz and company the truth, what DK did was absolutely brilliant. He gave DG the easiest possible way to make an announcement that was clearly difficult for DG. What a great and classy move by a progressive and forward thinking coach.
This is another reason why Umass is friggin awesome. This is pure speculation, but did DG come to Umass because he knew it was a bastion of tolerance? Wouldn’t surprise me. After all, he transferred here from Western Kentucky. When I think of Western Kentucky, I don’t think of a place with a lot of man on man love. Quite frankly I think more of cousin on cousin love. Who knows, just throwing that possibility out there.
I will never have to do something like Derrick Gordon did. I will never have to announce to the world that I think women are the tops!! I will never have to worry about whether or not my friends and family will treat me differently for being myself. I don’t care that it’s 2014 and you’re in a really progressive community, it still takes guts to do what he did.
Look, on paper we’re all very tolerant. It’s easy to say that you are cool with homosexuality. But 95% of men, when they first think about the idea of a man and a man doing …….that, get grossed out and think about hot babes as fast as they can. That doesn’t make you homophobic, it makes you heterosexual. The only thing that separates gay and straight men is who we do……….that, with. So when you come out of the closet like this, you’re basically saying, “I am just like all of you, except I am sexually attracted to men.” For straight men, this is very hard to comprehend.
That’s why it’s such bullshit when people say,
“Why is this news? Who cares? I thought I wasn’t supposed to care if he was gay or not? Why doesn’t he just keep that to himself?”
When you meet these types of people, do society a favor and laugh in their face. Sorry dooshnozzles, this is news. It’s news because he’s breaking down a barrier that was firmly established. So when I wanted to find a concentrated place where I could find a collection of idiots like this I went straight to the source – the Boston Herald.
Look, I’m generally kind of conservative, but I just don’t understand why conservatives can’t just admit that this is a relevant story. I blame Maclemore. That dude is a 100% poser. All of a sudden he’s the spokesperson for gay rights, now that it’s trendy to do so. Where was he in 2004? Nowhere. All of a sudden I can’t watch the Grammy’s without having to watch Maclemore and Queen Latifah marry 30 gay couples. Poser. Anyway, it’s because of idiots like Maclemore that idiots on the Herald write comments like this on their Facebook page:
It just doesn’t get any more moronic than Lisa’s comment. Hey dingleberry – straight guys don’t have to make an announcement. It’s assumed from birth that we’re straight. My mother never told me when I was younger that she hoped I met a nice man and settled down. So everyone naturally assumes that DG is straight, unless he told them otherwise. Which is exactly what he did. Lisa, I award you no points, and may God have mercy on your soul.
Oh no, Leslie is leaving the Facebook discussion!! Someone get her to come back!! DG should obviously go back in the closet because there’s nothing she hates more than when someone breaks down a major social barrier like DG did.
Derrick’s story was tragic before any of this even came out (no pun intended). Just like the NBA’s first gay player Jason Collins, DG has a twin brother. Unlike Jaron Collins, Darryl Gordon didn’t get a basketball scholarship. Ya see, he’s only 5’5″, while Derrick is 6’2″. So while Derrick got a scholarship to attend the prestigious St. Patrick’s of New Jersey, and was high school teammates with NBA All-Star Kyrie Irving, and National Champion Michael Kidd-Glichrist, Darryl was stuck behind in Plainfield where he fell into a life of crime. Derrick was affiliated with gangs before attending St. Patrick’s, but was able to leave that behind. Darryl wasn’t that lucky. Today Darryl sits in a jail cell, serving a five year sentence for attempted murder. Derrick still loves his twin brother, and wears a tattoo that says “MBK” for My Brothers Keeper.
You know what’s cool about this too? I watched every minute of every UMass game this year, and DG is one of my favorite players. He really grew on me this year. Anyone remember the Providence game?
Watching that still gives me chills. DG had his ups and downs as a player this season. He was abysmal at points, and shot free throws worth than Shaq. But the DG floater was simply an unstoppable force of nature this season. You saw it in that Providence game, but when he was aggressive towards the basket and let that ball off his fingertips, you just knew it was going in. In their biggest regular season game of the year, a sellout against #17 St. Louis, DG was masterful.
The best part about this whole story is that DG completely facialized every possible stereotype about homosexuals. Anyone who watches UMass as much as we do at TurtleBoy Sports can testify that he is the second toughest player on this team, after Chaz Williams of course. He got tossed around more times than I can count, going for rebounds, loose balls, and taking the ball into the lane for an imminent punishment. Dude had balls. This right here was classic DG:
And what about the straight guys? Have you ever seen a softer 6’10” 250 pound player than Cady Lalanne?
I wish our heterosexual players like Lalanne, Raphiael Putney, and Sampson Carter played with half DG’s guts. Turns out that he had nothing to worry about by coming out. His teammates are class acts and have his back, just as the fans do. From the Coach..
to Seth Berger
to Cady Lalanne
and of course Chaz
UMass players have an unbreakable bond, which is why this team was so enjoyable to watch this season.
So I’m obviously real proud of DG if you can’t tell yet. I’m already excited beyond belief at what next year brings the Minutemen. A new leader will emerge for UMass. Will it be Trey Davis? DG? Maxie Esho? Cady? Time will tell. Now that he’s gotten this out of the way, he can focus on what he’s best at – playing basketball. If he can do two things, he can be one of the more dynamic players in the country:
1. Develop a jump shot.
2. Develop a left hand. I didn’t notice this until the tournament game against Tennessee when his open breakaway was swatted. But he had a wide open left handed layup that he passed up on, in favor of using using his right. Because he wan’t able to use his right hand side of his body to protect the basketball, this happened…
I believe in you DG. I believe you can work on your game this summer and come back as an All-Conference player next year. After what you just did, learning how to develop your left hand will be a piece of cake.
Derrick will be the first to tell you that he knows the stereotype of gay men is as that they are soft. However, with his background, gritty play, and brave actions, he has laid those stereotypes to rest once and for all. UMass Nation has your back Derrick. Never forget that.
Feel free to share your thoughts to keep the conversation going.