WATCH: The First Openly Gay Athlete to Play in March Madness
Derrick Gordon, 24, currently the only openly gay collegiate Division I basketball player, made history Thursday as the only out player to ever compete in the NCAA tournament.
At a press conference before the game, the Seton Hall University player told reporters that he longs for a day when his sexual orientation won't make news.
"It's always going to be a story until somebody else does it," Gordon told Denver Post reporters Wednesday regarding his coming-out last year. He said he didn't mind being the only out player but added, "I just hope one day when somebody else comes out that it's not as big of a deal as when I came out. It's 2016 — my teammates are the perfect example that it's all about basketball with us."
Speaking with reporters in the Pirates locker room at the Pepsi Center in Denver, Gordon, said he is accepted for who he is on Seton Hall's basketball team, even by younger players.
"You would think since these guys are freshmen and sophomores that they really wouldn't understand, but that's not the case," Gordon told the paper. "They accepted me for who I was, and it made things a lot easier."
Gordon first came out last year while playing for the University of Massachusetts at Amherst. He had support from his coach and from fans, who even staged a counter protest when members of the Westboro Baptist Church decided to picket at one of his games. The church planned to protest outside Gordon's game Thursday, to the outrage of sports stars such as Charles Barkley. However, it seems that their plans to protest never came to fruition, as there are no reports of it online.
His current coach, Kevin Willard, told reporters he was supportive of Gordon being out in the Division I league. "It's been such a blessing having him here," Willard said. "Our guys accepted him right away. I mean, it was such a nonfactor for me. It was a nonfactor for our guys. It was a nonfactor for Seton Hall University. It just shows you what a great place it is to go. It was so supportive for him, I think it made the transition so easy."
Still, the spotlight continues to be on Gordon, whether he likes it or not, as no other Division I basketball players have come out. "I want those scouts to know I'm here for basketball and the other thing is secondary," Gordon told reporters. "I just want to be known as a basketball player. I don't want to just be known as a gay basketball player." On Thursday, the Pirates lost to Gonzaga University 68-52.
The Human Rights Campaign posted a photo on Instagram congratulating Gordon for his accomplishment:
Watch Gordon play during Thursday's game below.