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Byron Perkins

Source: Chris Brown, IG: breezyshots__

A player on the football team at Hampton University made history as the first athlete at an HBCU to come out and identify as gay.

According to reports, Hampton University defensive back Byron Perkins announced last Wednesday (October 19) that he was coming out as gay in a post on his Instagram account.

“I’ve decided that I’m going to make a change, and stop running away from myself. I’m gay,” Perkins wrote. “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.” The junior from Chicago, Illinois is believed to be the first athlete at a Historically Black College & University to declare their sexual identity publicly.

Perkins made the decision because he felt that he wasn’t being true to himself and that pressure was beginning to weigh on him. In an interview with Outsports, he elaborated on that feeling.

“I’ve been self-reflective and trying to prioritize what makes me happy and makes me feel alive,” Perkins said. “I thought it could be just football and school, but there was a component missing. And recently I’ve been able to figure out that I haven’t been fully happy because everyone didn’t know who I was. Authenticity is everything to me.”

The 6-foot-3, 190 lb. Perkins initially committed to Purdue University, playing two years there before transferring to Hampton and playing for the Pirates this season.

His goal in coming out is to aid other young Black gay men in their journey. When asked about the reaction of his teammates and coaching staff, Perkins said that he has gotten the support of his coaches and his teammates have been accepting, albeit with mixed feelings.

“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,” he said.

Perkins also emphasized that his faith has helped him on this journey, stating that is possible to be religious and gay.

“I’m a God-fearing man,” Perkins said to Outsports. “I love Christ. I just want to be better than the man I was the day before, and I want to help people.”