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Friday, October 21, 2022


The defensive back plays for Hampton University in the Colonial Athletic Association.

Byron Perkins, a defensive back who plays Division I football at Hampton University in Virginia, came out as gay in an Instagram story this week. With his announcement, he is the first out gay football player at a Historically Black College or University.

“I have come to understand that life is precious and I could be gone at any moment, therefore, I will no longer be living a lie,” Perkins posted to Instagram. “No one should have to live a life crippled by what society thinks.”

Perkins, a 6’3” redshirt junior from De La Salle High School in Chicago, Ill., has 16 tackles and two deflected passes through six games this season. He transferred from Purdue University and has appeared in a total of 11 games over two seasons at Hampton. The Hampton Pirates have a record of 4-2 this season in the Colonial Athletic Association.

In an exclusive interview with Cyd Ziegler of OutSports, Perkins said he came out in part to set an example for other Black gay male athletes who are suffering in the closet.

“Especially at an HBCU, young Black gay men need an outlet,” Perkins told Zeigler of OutSports. “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.”

Perkins opened up with Zeigler, sharing the difficulties of being in the closet and how keeping his sexual identity private had hindered his growth as a person.

“I’ve been self-reflective and trying to prioritize what makes me happy and makes me feel alive,” Perkins told OutSports. “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.”

Perkins follows in the trendsetting footsteps of the NFL’s first out gay player, Carl Nassib, who famously came out during Pride month last year.

“What’s up, people?” Nassib said in the now famous video post to Instagram. “I’m at my house in West Chester, Pa. I just wanted to take a quick moment to say that I’m gay. I’ve been meaning to do this for a while now but finally feel comfortable getting it off my chest.”

Proving that gay men can play football as well or better than their straight counterparts, Nassib forced a fumble in overtime that was quickly converted into the game-winning touchdown in his first game since coming out. The pivotal play took place on the first Monday Night Football game of the season, the league’s premiere prime time televised game.

Hampton University was founded in 1868 as Hampton Agricultural and Industrial School for freed Black men following the U.S. Civil War. The research university is renowned for its museum, which is not only the oldest museum in Virginia but it's also the oldest African-American museum in the U.S.


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