Isaac Humphries comes out making him the only openly gay man playing top-flight basketball in the world today. The Australian professional basketball player is on the Melbourne United team of the National Basketball League (NBL).
During an exclusive interview with CNN Sport’s Amanda Davies, 24-year-old Humphries said, “I’ve hid something about myself my whole life, from everyone I love and even myself sometimes. It’s a truth about myself that I’ve wanted to deny for a long time. That truth is that I’m gay. I’m making the decision to come out today because I believe that I can be who I am in my environment and I can change the trajectory of how we view being gay in sports.”
Isaac Humphries Breaking Out of the Closet
The 6’11” power forward/center played two seasons of college basketball at the University of Kentucky (2015 to 2017). From there he played with various teams around the world before recently joining Melbourne United in Australia.
During the interview with Davies and in other recent public statements, Humphries recounted that his need to hide the truth about his sexuality led him to a very dark place. In 2020, he attempted suicide as a result of depression.
Later, while recuperating from an injury, Humphries spent some time in Los Angeles, California in 2021. There he met people who were openly gay, well-respected, and at the top of their profession. That changed his perspective.
“[I] got to see that being openly gay can come with joy. For the first time in my life, I saw that people at the top of their game can be open and honest about who they are, and that came with a visceral and contagious happiness. So while in LA in 2021 to fix my injuries, I also got to experience more of being around the LGBTQ+ community. It was mostly through making friends who were openly gay and unequivocally themselves – shame wasn’t even a consideration.”
Deciding to Be Who He Is
Humphries decided to join Melbourne United in 2022 but he did so knowing that he couldn’t go back into the closet. “I was going to have to be who I am and not hide anymore,” he says. “I know I can be an out gay man in a sport and it doesn’t have to be so separate. It can be totally inclusive. To think I’ll be the only openly gay basketballer in a top tier in the world, it’s mindblowing. It just makes me think that there needs to be some representation now.”
“Hating yourself is real,” he says. “I didn’t think I was allowed to exist like this within my basketball world. The idea that I could be this person within my world and help others who are in my position, and I know there are so many who feel similar to me … I want to make sure that young kids, anyone out there who feels the same way I did about themselves, I want them to know they have representation. They’re not alone at all. I’m living proof that you can be … anything you want.
Wanting to Change Basketball Culture
Humphries says he wants to change basketball culture to make it easier for other players coming up after him. “I know what it feels like to grow up in an environment that doesn’t feel welcoming, and I want to do my part to make sure basketball is no longer one of them.”
The Melbourne team and front office have been very supportive of Humphries and his decision to come out. They’ve expressed support for his decision and so far there have been no notable grumblings from teammates or fans.
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