Jallen Messersmith, a 6-foot-8 center for Benedictine College in Atchison, Kansas, has just become what is believed to be the first openly gay active men’s college basketball player. He tells the AP that he revealed his sexual orientation to his coach and team before last season, and then told his story to OutSports.
Messersmith actually contacted OutSports prior to Jason Collins becoming the first openly gay NBA player. At the time, Messersmith said, “When I came out, there was nobody in my sport I could [relate to]. I always
wanted to put it out there and I had a great experience with it and I
wanted to show people it could be fine.”
In the piece, Messersmith talks about how hard it was growing up in the Mormon church, where he continually heard that being gay is bad — though he didn’t hear that at home from his parents.
“My mom had told me all growing up that if for some reason somebody was
gay, they would support them. But going to church, all I heard was
‘this is bad, this is bad, this is bad.’ When I heard stuff like that,
all I did was try to get away from it,” says Messersmith.
With the story going wide on a national level, Benedictine College, a Roman Catholic institution, released a statement:
“We support Jallen as a Benedictine College student and as a member
of the Raven basketball team,. 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.”
And Messersmith says coming out to his coaches couldn’t have gone better.
“They were there 100% for me,” says Messersmith. “They said it would not
make any difference in the way the team was run. And they wanted to make
sure it wouldn’t change my experience at the school. That was awesome.
After that, I felt like I could do anything.”
The full feature at OutSports is posted here, it’s an excellent read.