Raiders defensive end Carl Nassib made history on Monday by coming out as the first active NFL player to be gay.
Two days earlier, Washington Spirit forward Kumi Yokoyama came out as a transgender male, who uses the pronouns they/them.
In becoming two prominent athletes to publicly come out, both received the praise of President Joe Biden, who tweeted on Tuesday that he was “so proud of your courage,” and added that “because of you, countless kids around the world are seeing themselves in a new light today.”
To Carl Nassib and Kumi Yokoyama – two prominent, inspiring athletes who came out this week: I’m so proud of your courage. Because of you, countless kids around the world are seeing themselves in a new light today.
— President Biden (@POTUS) June 23, 2021
Yokoyama had said in their interview on YouTube that they had felt like they needed to be closeted in Japan, but that after living in the United States and Germany, they felt they could publicly come out. Yokoyama has had top surgery, but said in the interview that they are waiting until the end of their soccer career to have further surgeries.
“When my girlfriend said there was no reason for me to stay closeted, it really hit me,” Yokoyama said. “Coming out wasn’t something I was enthusiastic about, but if I think about my life going forward, it would be harder to live closeted, so I found the courage to come out.”
Nassib came out in an Instagram post on Monday, saying that though he is a private person, he wanted to provide “representation and visibility.”
Nassib is the first active NFL player to come out as gay. Michael Sam was the first openly gay football player drafted to an NFL team, but he never made the 53-man roster of a team.
“I actually hope that one day, videos like this and the whole coming out process are not necessary,” Nassib said. “But until then, I’m going to do my best and do my part to cultivate a culture that’s accepting, that’s compassionate.”
Both athletes received support for their coming out. Yokoyama received messages of support from fellow soccer players, including NWSLPA President Tori Huster, and their team. Nassib’s announcement was met with support from the NFL, Raiders quarterback Derek Carr, and from Sam, who thanked Nassib for “owning your truth.”