MELBOURNE, Australia (AP) — Melbourne United starting center Isaac Humphries has announced that he is gay and said he hopes his decision to go public will give confidence to other professional athletes o do the same.
Humphries, a former U.S. collegiate player with Kentucky, became the first openly gay player in Australia’s National Basketball League when he made his announcement to teammates on Wednesday. He posted the video on Twitter.
The 24-year-old Humphries is the second active athlete in one of Australia’s top sports leagues to publicly announce he’s gay, following A-League soccer player Josh Cavallo.
“I believe it is definitely time to make a change and set an example to the next generation that they can be anything they want while still being true to themselves,” Humphries said. “I want to demonstrate that you can be a professional athlete, you can be anything you want, and still be gay.”
Humphries told teammates he had been through “extremely dark times” and had hidden his sexuality from loved ones and even himself.
“It is a truth about myself that I have wanted to deny for a long time, but now I feel comfortable in telling you all. That truth, is that I am gay,” Humphries said. “I have been through extremely dark times during this journey, but I have been through so much growth and I am now happy with who I am.”
Humphries, who played for Kentucky from 2015-2017, is one of the few males to publicly announce he’s gay while playing in one of the world’s top-tier basketball leagues. NBA veteran Jason Collins was the first in 2013.
Melbourne United chief executive Nick Truelson said the organization was proud of Humphries.
“Today is an incredible step in Isaac’s journey, and we as a club are wholeheartedly supportive of him,” Truelson said. “Not only as a member of our club, but as a person. This is a momentous occasion for him personally, but also for male sport on a global scale.”
Pride in Sport, a group which supports Australian sporting organizations and clubs in all aspects of LGBTQ inclusion, praised Humphries for “addressing his challenges in continuing to play the game not being his true self, but also the relief and joy he feels for doing so and being able to be a role model for younger athletes.”
“His bravery is to be congratulated,” said the group’s national program manager Beau Newell.
Erik Denison of Monash University’s BehaviourWorks Australia, a behavior change institute, said that while it was good to see Humphries’ team support him, “they need to do much more.”
“Basketball is not safe for gay and bisexual kids,” Denison said. “We need basketball’s leaders to invest in strategies to stop harmful homophobic behaviours in their sport. These behaviours make athletes like Isaac feel unsafe and unwelcome.”
“The video recorded by Isaac is heart wrenching. Professional athletes should not feel they need to make the choice between taking their own lives, dropping out of sport, or coming out to their teammates.”
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