Jallen Messersmith Comes Out In Men’s College Basketball First

Jallen Messersmith, a junior forward at Benedictine College in Atchison, Kansas, came out as gay. The news makes Messersmith the first US men’s college basketball player to be openly gay while still playing.

The junior explained his decision for coming out to Outsports.com, saying he wanted to do so to help other gay athletes feel comfortable about themselves. Messersmith added:

“When I started coming out, I didn’t have anyone to look to for advice or to see how their story went. People can look to see what happened to me — and there are positive things going on.”

The junior forward revealed his sexual preferences to his coach last summer. He told his teammates just before the season started. Messersmith added that none of them were bothered by the news. Benedictine guard Brett Fisher stated:

“He’s a very outgoing player, and if you need an example of a hustler, it’s him. He’s doing the dirty work for the team. He’s getting blocks on defense, he’s getting every rebound. We like him on the team.”

Jallen Messersmith’s announcement that he is gay comes just one month after Jason Collins did the same thing in a Sports Illustrated article. But Collins’ decision didn’t affect Messersmith’s reason for going public with his homosexuality. The college player added, “He wasn’t a buffer for me.”

Messersmith added that almost everyone at his 2,000-student college already knew he was gay. He has had no correspondence with Collins. Still, the college player added, “It’s awesome to have another person in my sport to come out [nationally] beforehand.”

Messersmith was first interviewed about his sexuality in March. Since then he has received all positive feedback. He acknowledged feeling anxious about the possible reactions he would get, but did so anyway. The player added:

“The big thing for me, why I wanted to do it, before the whole Jason Collins thing, is there weren’t a lot of basketball-related stories like this.”

Jallen Messersmith’s college declined to comment on his coming out, saying, “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.”