Gay Burlco man hopes NFL player’s disclosure will initiate change


For Jimmy, coming out is yet another wrecking ball, a powerful admission that will help crumble the dividing walls that separate reality from an inaccurate but persistent stereotype. Perhaps the last high-level admission defined bravery less than liberation.

The latest hit to the wall created a deafening boom last week when 6-foot-7, 277-pound Las Vegas Raiders defensive lineman, former Penn State All-American and West Chester native Carl Nassib, kicked in. announced he was gay, the first active player in the 101-year history of the NFL to do so.

Nassib’s reveal during Pride Month – he posted a video on his Instagram account – was the type of public admission Jimmy himself hopes to someday find the strength to make.

“What someone like an NFLer comes out of is that it helps change the perception of what it is to be gay,” said the 20-year-old Burlington County resident, a friend of a friend, who chose to call himself only Jimmy to protect his identity. because he has not yet come out to his family. “When a professional athlete in a tough sport like soccer comes out it helps reduce the stigma society has placed on gay men, that we are not as strong as straight men, that we are gentle, that we look like more to a woman than to a man, which is an (expletive) load of crap.

“When I heard that (Nassib) was out, I was happy; a professional football player today, not someone who had already retired. But I only wish more of them would, not just him and maybe one or two more, hopefully. This is what will change the perception and perhaps give others the courage to do the same. Someone like me.

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Jimmy’s courage in the sports arena has never been questioned. Standing nearly six feet tall and then weighing around 200 pounds, he played football in high school and, for a time, struggled. He partied, drank, smoked and even dated girls. Obviously he was like every other guy. No one suspected anything.

“The person my straight friends were seeing was almost exactly who I was,” he said. “I played sports, I partied. The only difference was that I was gay. I had always known it, but I dared not tell anyone. Even now only some of my closest friends know that. I’m not sure what others, like casual acquaintances, might feel. And I’m just not ready to tell the family because I know the family is not ready to take it. My dad thinks I’m a young man who goes out with all women. He’s not ready. At least not yet.

“The company is moving forward, with anti-discrimination laws and everything, and all the free support you can get from organizations. But by changing the way people see and treat you, laws cannot change that. So when an NFL player comes out — big, strong, famous, rich — maybe people’s notions will change. I hope. I’m not sure, but I hope so.

According to Gallup, 5.6% of American adults, or roughly 17 million, identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, or anything other than heterosexual. Among them were a few of my cousins, some who may not have experienced discrimination but disappointment from family members. I say “were” because everyone has since died. In a conversation several years ago with one of them, he said, “Sometimes it’s hard to deal with all this bullshit. But in the end, I can only be me, not what other people want me to be. And if that bothers someone, that’s their problem, not mine.

There are many grateful Jimmys today for the Carl Nassibs of the world to step out of the shadows created and perpetuated by a biased and ill-informed society. Legions of Jimmys hoping for the day that society and family let go of their judgment.

Jimmys hopes people will accept them for who they are.

And the courage to learn if they want to.

Columnist Phil Gianficaro can be reached at 215-345-3078, [email protected] and @philgianficaro on Twitter.


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