Jallen Messersmith is men’s college basketball’s 1st openly-gay player

Wow.  Great story over at OutSports by Jim Buzinski about Jallen Messersmith who was raised Mormon (now he’s “ex”), and now plays on a Catholic college basketball team as an openly-gay man.  Them there’s a lot of hurdles.

According to OutSports, Messersmith appears to be the first openly gay men’s college basketball player. He really had a great coming out – parents accepted it, then his coach, then his teammates.  He was especially worried about his teammates. Outsports explains why:

Despite the reactions from his coaches and Fisher, Messersmith admits he had major anxiety about the whole team hearing he was gay. This stemmed from a discussion in the locker room in his freshman year.

“A year before there was a locker room conversation and one of the guys on the team was having a kid. We discussed if we had a kid and they were gay, what would happen. Things were said like ‘I would try and change them’ or ‘That’s not OK.’ It kind of freaked me out a little bit. I was not sure how they would respond to that kind of thing.”

I’d had a similar experience with my dad.  He had made some comment I won’t repeat perhaps a year before coming out to him.  It kind of freaked me out about coming out to him at all.  But surprisingly, he was pretty good about it.  He cried (they all cry), but he accepted it, he loved me, that was that.

Jallen Messersmith, via a photo on his Facebook page.

Jallen Messersmith, via a photo on his Facebook page.

What’s interesting about this is the whole issue of bullying, and speech.  I think folks on the right would like us to believe the old sticks and stones line about names.  Don’t believe it.  Words hurt, and have the potential to do damage even if you think the kind of people you’re knocking aren’t among you at the time.

Messersmith’s coming out comes on the heels of a number of other prominent professional sports players, including soccer player Robbie Rogers and NBA player Jason Collins.

I was rather intrigued by the great comment from his Catholic school, Benedictine College to the LA Times:

“We support Jallen as a Benedictine College student and as a member of the Raven basketball team,” the statement said. “Obviously, it would be inappropriate for us to discuss the private lives of students. As an institution we treat all students with respect and sensitivity.”

Good for them.

But I especially loved this comment left on his Facebook page:

Hey kid I just read your story. I dont know you, but you should know I’m really proud of you and proud to be a Raven. Your courage is commended. As a 2007 football alum, I got your back if you ever need anything don’t be hesitate to ask. Good luck! Jon Jimenez.

It really is a new day.

Follow me on Twitter: @aravosis | @americablog | @americabloggay | Facebook | Instagram | Google+ | LinkedIn. John Aravosis is the Executive Editor of AMERICAblog, which he founded in 2004. He has a joint law degree (JD) and masters in Foreign Service from Georgetown; and has worked in the US Senate, World Bank, Children's Defense Fund, the United Nations Development Programme, and as a stringer for the Economist. He is a frequent TV pundit, having appeared on the O'Reilly Factor, Hardball, World News Tonight, Nightline, AM Joy & Reliable Sources, among others. John lives in Washington, DC. .

Share This Post

  • Indigo

    You noticed that too, huh?

  • Sweetie

    and in need of a red-eye proof camera.

  • Sweetie

    “He cried (they all cry), but he accepted it, he loved me, that was that.”

    Acceptance is a level of heterosexism/homophobia.

  • Find one. Find one now. People like you are too silent to and apologetic for the religious right in this country.

  • George Melby

    As a devout Christian minister, I so wish there were a gentle, loving way to say, “FUCK OFF!” to the christian Catholic hierarchy! They make Barabbas and Judas Iscariot look like Saints!

  • George Melby

    What can I say? WHAT CAN I SAY? Absolute best wishes, blessings, peace, joy, and safe passage through life, Jallen. May there be many more who follow your path!
    Dakotahgeo, M.Div. Pastor/Chaplain

  • Chris

    And this has to do with what?

  • cole3244

    courage comes in all shapes and sizes, this happens to be one, be safe jallen and be careful.

  • nicho

    I don’t think Pope Bergoglio got “yanked” anywhere. No one who wasn’t a hard-core right winger has been allowed into the College of Cardinals for at least 30 years.

  • Indigo

    It helps that he’s cute.

  • UncleBucky

    “Benedictine College” should be on a news watcher. Just as Pope Bergoglio got yanked backwards to the 14th century by the “Vatican”, the same could happen to Benedictine College.

  • UncleBucky

    Indeed. But that’s what happens when a person like Jallen realizes he has allies out the wing wang! Allies, supporters, friends and family are what make this so much easier.

    The bigots want to make you feel (and BE) alone. The answer is to deny the bigots their desires that you are isolated enough, so they can take you in the alley and beat the… out of you.

  • UncleBucky

    Great article. It IS and for others can be a new day.

  • Jonas Grumby

    Raised Mormon, paying on Catholic college bball team and comes out as Gay in THIS America? Damn kid, you’ve got balls and my undying admiration. Good for him and all the best for sure.

  • nicho

    The Vatican is now going to go on the attack. The college will be under incredible pressure to boot him out. Child rapists, OK. Openly gay basketball playes, not so much.

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