Byron Perkins, a Hampton University defensive back, has made history after he publicly came out as gay, the first time a football player at an HBCU has done so.
He made the announcement on Wednesday on his Instagram story where he wrote, “I’ve decided that I’m going to make a change, and stop running away from myself. I’m gay, let it be known that this is not a ‘decision’ or a ‘choice.’ Yes, this is who I am, this is who I’ve been, and this is who I’m going to be. Simply put, I am who I am.”
Since 2014, when former University of Missouri football star Michael Sam came out as gay, there have been more and more college and professional football players who have been open and willing to share their sexuality. But Perkins and Sam, are two of the only Black football players to come out as gay.
In an interview with Outsports.com, Perkins shared that his coaches have been very supportive, but the reaction from his teammates has been good but “very mixed.”
Perkins shared that he wants to lend assistance to other Black men at HBCUs that are struggling with their sexuality, so coming as gay could be the first step to helping others.
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“Especially at an HBCU, young Black gay men need an outlet,” he said. “They need a support system. There hasn’t been an out gay football athlete at an HBCU. I want to end the stigma of what people think. I want people to know they can be themselves.
“It’s about that kid who’s going to see this and think he can be himself too.”
A junior at Hampton, Perkins has six more games to play this season and has recorded 16 tackles, two deflected passes and one interception.
He previously played at Purdue University, one of the marquee schools in the Big-Ten, before transferring to Hampton University three years ago, according to Hammerandrails.com.