This post was written by Rebecca Luxton and originally appeared on RYOT.
ASU’s senior offensive lineman, Edward “Chip” Sarafin, just became the first openly gay man in Division I college football.
In an interview with Compete Magazine — a publication that celebrates the accomplishments of gay athletes — Sarafin revealed to interviewer Joshua Wyrick, and by default, the world, that he’s gay.
Last spring, Sarafin said, he decided to head off rumors by telling his teammates individually about his sexual orientation. “It was really personal to me, and it benefited my peace of mind greatly,” he told Wyrick.
The piece goes on to talk about Chip’s time in school, his major, and other life tidbits, making it clear that sexuality is just a small facet of a person’s identity.
Sarafin’s coach Todd Graham weighed in on the news:
Sarafin’s announcement is groundbreaking — athletes face a lot of flak over homosexuality, whether true or rumored. And athletes aren’t just at the mercy of their teammates and fans: they also face anti-gay laws when they compete in other countries, as when the 2014 Winter Olympics took place in Russia.
Though gay athletes weren’t banned from the Olympics, Russia still enforced their harsh anti-gay laws. So it’s people like Chip Sarafin and his peers who are effectively changing the status quo by opening up about their own experiences and inspiring the world.
Just a few months ago, Michael Sam, now of the St. Louis Rams, became the first publicly gay football player ever drafted by the NFL. After Sarafin’s announcement, Sam tweeted his congratulations:
In the NBA, Jason Collins came out as gay right after the conclusion of the 2012-13 season. That year, after his contract ended with the Washington Wizards, he wasn’t invited to join another team — but he was happy to sit this one out as a free agent, and the next season, he was signed with the Brooklyn Nets, becoming the first openly gay player to compete in any of the four major United States sports leagues.
And Glenn Burke of the Los Angeles Dodgers and the Oakland A’s played for several years, but left the league after too much criticism from his teammates and the public. Though he came out to others in the league, including coaches, the press didn’t report on his sexuality back then, which is why people don’t consider him to be the first openly gay major league player.
We’re seeing a lot of important change in the sports world. As more and more people talk publicly about their sexual orientations, it’s likely that the climate will turn still more towards equality and open-mindedness.
Today, it’s a big deal when an athlete comes out as gay — but I’m looking forward to a day when being an openly gay athlete is no big deal; it’s just the new norm.
Photo Credit: Wikimedia Commons