Las Vegas Raiders lineman Carl Nassib made history on June 21 by becoming the first active NFL player to come out as gay. On Friday, Nassib opened up in an interview with ESPN about what life has been like since sharing his truth and the “incredible” response he's received from fans and teammates alike.
While Nassib says he feels much better on the field since his announcement on Instagram, at first he was very nervous. “First couple of days, being ‘out,’ the only ‘out’ player, my body felt like Jell-O. I was very anxious,” he said. “But now, I just wanted to get this [media conference] over with, wanted to move on, just have a lot of clarity. I feel better today. I feel better than I did yesterday and the day before that. So, I'm looking forward to the future.”
Nassib’s confidence got a boost from how his coming out on Instagram was received. “I was definitely surprised by the big reaction. It was incredible. I thought nobody would care. But it was just such a good feeling to have all that support. I was glad to do my part to help bring visibility and representation to my community,” he said.
The news caught most people by surprise because “very few players around the league knew.” said Nassib. However, he did loop his Raiders coaches in before he went public, “to give them the chance to kind of digest [and] help me in the process.”
Nassib also shared he had little worry about how his teammates would respond. “I knew it was going to be good. I had zero stress about that. Absolutely no worries about that. Great locker room. Great teammates,” he said. Fortunately for Nassib, they lived up to his expectations. “I’ve been met with nothing but love and support. It’s been incredible. Football players get a bad rep, but we’re humble, hardworking, accepting people, and this was a great example of that,” he shared.
Now that Nassib is out, he's ready to live his life openly and with authenticity. “It was definitely stressful, growing up and being in the closet and doing all that. Very stressful for anybody. I can speak from experience,” he said. “But yeah, it's been a great weight off my shoulders. I’ve been ‘out’ to my family and friends for years, to this point, so it’s been good to not have to lie when I come to work every day. It’s been good.”