College Basketball’s First Openly Gay Player Jallen Messersmith Was Raised Mormon, Leads Catholic Team

College basketball

Outsports has a wonderful feature piece about Jallen
Messersmith, the first gay men’s college basketball player to come out while
still playing
. Messersmith, who plays for Benedictine College in Atchison,
Kansas, was raised Mormon, overcame intense bullying in school, and now leads
his Catholic college’s team in blocked shots for this past season. Messersmith
contacted Outsports about telling his coming out story prior to NBA player
Jason Collins declaring he is gay.

College 2“When I came out, there was nobody in my sport I could
[relate to],” Messersmith said about why he agreed to share his story. “I
always wanted to put it out there and I had a great experience with it and I
wanted to show people it could be fine.”

Messersmith goes on to discuss the severe bullying he
faced in adolescence and how he found refuge in a place not usually seen as a
sanctuary for gay teens wrestling with their sexuality: sports.

“The people making fun of me pushed me into basketball
further and made me want to be the best at basketball and get somewhere with
myself," he said. "After my sophomore year, I didn't care what people
thought. I grew stronger because of it and it rolls off my back now."

Above all, Messersmith says self-acceptance is the most
important aspect of living out and proud both on and off the court.

“You've just got to be comfortable with yourself," he
said. "I wasn't very comfortable with myself for a long time and then when
I was, if you put off the confidence and you are 100% comfortable when you tell
someone, they will support you. They can't, as much as they can try, drag you
down. It's all about you. It's what you think. If you are comfortable with
yourself, you can do anything."

Read Messersmith’s full story at Outsports. 


  1. ratbastard says

    No, no, no, somethings wrong with this story. We all know know Mormons, Catholics and people in ‘flyover’ country are redneck haters, bigots, racist, homophobes, and evil Christianist. Now maybe if it happened in NYC or S.F. or some other ‘progressive’ utopia in the making I’d believe it.

    Sarcasm off.

  2. EchtKultig says

    The post by Michael is banal, and the post by ratbastard borders on moronic sarcasm, but together they limn a rather sublime truth about certain people.

  3. ken says

    I don’t read as many posts as a lot of blokes on here, and I write even fewer. I can’t comment on the entire oevre of ratbastard, except to say I find his comments of above average interest to me, and I find all the hating that he gets curious.

    Here, he said he was being sarcastic, and the sarcasm was well-received by me. I tend to view fly-over country as unwelcoming to smoldering hot gay college athletes, and stories such as these help to break up my preconceptions.

  4. MateoM says

    Ken, the article only briefly mentions his family. They may accept who he is, but probably still think he’s going to hell. They’re Mormon, and only he left the church. I think it’s safe to say that these fly-over areas are still a stronghold of anti-gay sentiments and homophobia. But things are changing.

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