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Vegas LGBTQ advocates react to the Raiders' and NFL's first openly gay player

Raiders Falcons Football
Posted at 9:10 PM, Jun 21, 2021
and last updated 2021-06-22 09:28:43-04

LAS VEGAS (KTNV) — In a message posted to his Instagram, Raiders defensive end Carl Nassib became the first active NFL player to speak these words.

"I just want to take a quick moment to say that I'm gay," said Nassib.

The 28-year-old said he'd meant to do it for a while and finally felt comfortable getting it off his chest.

"I'm a pretty private person so I really 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.

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Nassib's message was a matter of fact. The impact of that message is impossible to measure.

"I'm so happy for Carl that he felt to do that. He doesn't know how many more people he's going to impact for just doing that one thing," said Nicole Williams, the founder of House of Vegas Pride.

Williams said in the sports world, players are in an environment where being out as gay is not normal, which has made messages like Nassib's incredibly rare.

"So with anything, it's going to be difficult to be that odd person out," she said. "You're already under distress of your contract and performance, now you want to add your personal life into it."

Chris Davin with the Henderson Equality Center said what's prevented more players from coming out may be fear of the reaction.

Are your fans going to be disappointed of who you are? Are they not going to like you anymore? Is it going to change their mind? Are your teammates not going to accept you," asked Davin.

"The stigma between being out and being proud of who you are is really still there for a lot of sports, a lot of industries, a lot of states. The rights are still something that we're fighting for to be who you are," said Brady McGill, the president of Las Vegas PRIDE.

That's why McGill said it's so important for someone like Carl Nassib to come out and be visible, to set an example for others that it's okay and not that big of a deal. It's an idea reflected in data. The Trevor Project reports that more than 80 percent of LGBTQ youth say LGBTQ celebrities positively impacted how they feel about being LGBTQ. McGill said he hopes to see the day when announcements like these aren't necessary. Nassib hopes the same.

"I actually hope that 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 to my part to cultivate a culture that's accepting, that's compassionate," said Nassib.

DAILY DEBRIEF: A deeper look into this story with Jason Dinant and Jackie Kostek

Daily Debrief: Raiders' Carl Nassib comes out