Former Football Pro Dave Kopay Gives $1 Million to UW LGBT Center

Kopay1Former pro football player Dave Kopay, who was the first professional athlete to come out of the closet (after his retirement), has given a $1 million gift to the University of Washington’s Q Center, a support, advocacy, and mentoring center for LGBT students.

Said Kopay: “The greatest gift we can give one another is the vision and beauty of life. I continually hear from people all over the world that my act of coming out especially when I did in 1975 has empowered them in their search for self and to see their vision. Hopefully my million-dollar pledge will influence others to support the University and the Q Center continue to help others to do just that.”

The Q Center is reflective of a change in times, and was noted by the center’s director Jennifer Self: “When David was a student-athlete at the UW in the early 60’s, as a gay man, he had nowhere to go for support, affirmation, resources, or safety. That is no longer the case, and thanks in part to him, the Q Center will be here in perpetuity.”

Kopay2She called Kopay’s gift “an act of forgiveness.”

Seattle Times columnist Jerry Brewer talked to Kopay, who says the gift is “about (half) his estate”, after the announcement. Said Kopay: “Hell yeah, it’s a lot of money to me! I struggled, and I suffered while in college because it was a different time. But it was a wonderful time, too. If I had not gone through some of that stuff, I wouldn’t be who I am now. I owe the university everything. And I think a lot of people feel that way.”

Gay athlete Dave Kopay donates $1 million to UW [seattle times]

(bottom image via outsports)


  1. Brad says

    Everytime a gay or closeted celebrity is bashed in the press for irresponsible behavior, let’s all think of this man who has led his life with such grace and courage. A true hero for us all no matter what age. And like a bottle of fine wine, getting better with age.

  2. scioto says

    I was literally drifting through the west not knowing what was going to happen in my life when I picked up his book in SF. My trip continued to LA, where I went to the first gay bar I knew about, and only because it was mentioned in his book. Went there each night of the 4 I planned in LA, and on the last one I met someone. I stayed in LA, and my life kind of started at 26.

    Without that chain of events I very possibly would not be around anymore.

    Dave came out at a time when it was a very courageous thing to do. This gift only adds to his legacy.

  3. KJ says

    As a UW grad, very closeted in the early 80s, I want to send a huge “Thank you!” to Dave. God bless him.

  4. Joe says

    I was lucky enough to meet and have dinner with Mr. Kopay recently, by way of a mutual friend. He is charming and completely unassuming and graciously allowed me to blather on about how much his book had meant to me. An amazing man.

  5. ejerry says

    Being of Dave Kopay’s generation, I remember how hard it was growing up without role models. I had only just come out when he did and remember the feeling of affirmation and pride he gave us all by his act of courage. Both of my colleges (Colgate and Duke) have since created Q centers,which I try to support in a more modest amount. I hope that others will follow Dave Kopay’s example and support such organizations to help support those following in our footsteps. Thanks, Dave!