Melbourne United’s Isaac Humphreys has come out publicly as gay, becoming the only openly gay man in the major men’s basketball league.
Humphreys made the announcement Wednesday (AEDT) via a video posted to his social media that showed the moment he shared the news with his teammates.
“We as athletes, as professional athletes, have a responsibility to set an example for the people,” Humphreys said in the video.
“The truth is there are so many people in other worlds who struggle every single day and don’t know how to stand up, [and] don’t know how to exist. I know what it’s like and I want to represent these people.
“That’s my goal: to make sure people know that you can be anyone, no matter who you are or what you do. You can be big ice and be gay, and you can still be a great basketball player and be gay. You can do whatever you want. It has nothing to do with your sexuality or who you are or who you should be or who you should be. I just want to be myself. I have found that this is my purpose in life and I will try my best.”
Humphreys is United’s starting center in the Australian NBL and is averaging 12 points, 5.5 rebounds and 1.9 blocks. He scored 20 points against South East Melbourne Phoenix and currently leads the league in blocks.
“It was a huge weight off my shoulders,” Humphreys told Sportzshala.
“I was very nervous and very afraid of this conversation, but once I heard everyone’s reaction and everyone was very congratulations and proud, I didn’t feel so worried anymore. About nothing. Since everything went so well, I’m not worried. about the world responding more.
“Being a role model is the main reason I do this. I have always wanted to be someone that people look up to and look up to as a good example. I take my position in society very seriously and I have always wanted to try to help people. Inevitably, I can help a lot of people and be someone they can look up to as an example of who can be gay in sports, be gay in basketball.”
The 24-year-old is only the second male basketball player to come out as gay while playing in the big leagues; the first since NBA player Jason Collins, who did so in 2013.
“I would love to have more versions of me to show me that being gay in basketball is okay,” Humphreys said.
“If I had such a role model or someone to look up to, I’m sure I wouldn’t go down the path of thinking that taking my life is the only way out. I recognize it when you are different and unique and you don’t see the representation, it’s very hard to imagine that this can happen, it’s very difficult to imagine that you can exist in this space when no one else is doing it.
“I know this is happening in many different areas of the world and it is slowly getting better. This is just my chance to make the sport better in that sense and make my mark on it and make sure others have role models in the way that I would like to.”
The news was met with overwhelming support from United’s organization, Humphreys’ teammates and the NBL.
“In order for Isaac to feel comfortable to come forward with this and start this new process for him, while in our club – and it has not been around for long – in the club there is pride in the fact that we have created an environment where he feels safe and where he feels like he wants to be himself and be supported on this journey,” United captain Chris Golding told Sportzshala.
“When he finished his speech, there was applause, the guys hugged him. He touched on the fact that professional sports environments, especially men’s teams, are usually not environments that are very inviting to live differently from most people. in this sport to do.
“Often, there may have been jokes or things that made Isaac feel uncomfortable, but now that everyone knows and everyone hugs him, we know this is the way forward. trail and become more than the game that we hope Isaac will become.
“I am very proud of the club in this regard. But I want to be proud in two or three weeks of how we took it, and in six months, and in a year; I’m more excited about how we’ll treat Isaac and possibly other gay basketball players in the future more than right now.”
United CEO Nick Truelson said: “Our whole organization is very proud of Isaac.
“Today is an incredible step in Isaac’s journey and we, as a club, support him wholeheartedly. Not only as a member of our club, but also as a person. This is a significant event for him personally, as well as for men’s sports on a global scale.
“Our goal at Melbourne United is to harness the power of basketball to enrich the lives of our community, and that includes a strong focus on inclusion and diversity. We are very pleased that Isaac has identified our club as a safe space where he can be his true self.”
In the video, Humphries spoke about his mental health and his state of mind due to hiding his sexuality.
“A few years ago I found myself in a very dark place, a very lonely place,” Humphreys said in a room with United players, managers and executives.
“I couldn’t be who I am and I tried to kill myself. The main reason I got so low and ended up at this point is because I struggled so much with my sexuality and came to terms with the fact that I am gay.
“I hated it in myself. I felt disgusted with myself. I thought that I could not be such a person in our environment, in the basketball environment. That was until I found myself in a community full of pride, happiness and joy; it was a big wake up call for me.
“But then there was a big question mark about how do I be a basketball player and how do I join a new team when I finally come to terms with that about myself and I don’t want to hide who I am anymore. I decided that if I was going to join the team, then I should say it publicly and just make sure people know that you can live. sportsman”.
The New South Wales native played two seasons of college basketball at the University of Kentucky and spent time in the NBA, NBL, NBA G-League and Europe during his professional career.
Shortly after the announcement, the NBA released a statement supporting Humphreys’ decision: “We are proud and grateful to Isaac for sharing his story. We know the real impact his honesty and courage will have on many others. Isaac enjoys our unwavering respect and support. .”
Athletes openly acknowledging LGBTQIA+ are still rare in male-dominated sports leagues. In 2021, Karl Naseeb became the first openly gay man in the NFL; That same year, Luke Prokop also came out as gay, becoming the first NHL player to do so. In Australia, Humphreys joins soccer player Josh Cavallo as the only openly gay athlete in the country’s major sports leagues.
“We love Isaac here at the club,” said United manager Dean Vickerman.
“It’s great for him to feel comfortable being himself here, and we can’t be more proud of him.”
“We can’t underestimate how hard this must have been for Isaac, but I’m really excited about the fact that he can be completely open and honest with his teammates and now, ultimately, with the world. It’s huge.”
“Isaac also made it clear to me and the rest of the team that although this is a big event for him off the court, he remains focused on the court. championship with this group.
NBL Commissioner Jeremy Leliger said Humphreys’ statement shows the NBL continues to be a place where players, coaches and staff feel safe and supported.
“As a League, we celebrate people from all walks of life and celebrate and encourage diversity and inclusion,” Loeliger added.
“Basketball is a game that brings people together, and this is no more obvious than it is today.
“Isaac has always been a role model and a leader. He is someone we have always treated with great respect.
“Isaac has performed admirably today and throughout his career, dealing with what has clearly been a major source of anxiety and horror for him personally.”
Humphreys will play 5-5 for United on Thursday night against his former team, the Adelaide 36ers.