Football (American) | I'm Gay | News

Conner Mertens is the First Active College Football Player to Come Out Publicly


Conner Mertens, a kicker on Willamette University's football team, has come out of the closet, making him the first active college football player to do so, Outsports reports.

Conner_mertensMertens's coming out has been received with open arms by coaches, and by players, who read a letter Mertens tweeted to his hometown last night, writes Cyd Zeigler:

One by one the players shared what was on their minds. At one point, one of the bigger guys on the team had something to say. This was one of the players of whose reaction Mertens was most afraid. He has a reputation of seeking out fights, eager for fisticuffs, Mertens said. He laid it all on the line in front of the team.

"If anyone has a problem with Conner," he said, "I'll kick your ass."

Every one of the team members who spoke shared the same sentiment. Mertens is a member of the team, he has a bright future on the gridiron, and it just doesn't matter if he has a boyfriend or a girlfriend.

"It's been insanely incredible," Mertens said a couple hours after the meeting last night. Text messages and phone calls poured in from the team, all offering their love and support. "I'm speechless. That is the only word I can use to describe this. Even a lot of the guys on the football team I was most scared of are the ones who have been the most amazing."

One of them asked Mertens to meet him on campus. When he arrived, the player gave his kicker a warm embrace.

"I love you man," the player said. "This doesn't change anything."

Read the full piece, with more reaction from players, head coach Glen Fowles, and Mertens, HERE.

Feed This post's comment feed


  1. We have come a long way since I played football. Glad it is happening.

    Posted by: Jaysonn | Jan 28, 2014 12:00:14 PM

  2. This made my day!

    Posted by: Jeff | Jan 28, 2014 12:12:59 PM

  3. This made my day!

    Posted by: Jeff | Jan 28, 2014 12:13:01 PM

  4. This made my day!

    Posted by: Jeff | Jan 28, 2014 12:13:12 PM

  5. If anything reveals that the frenzy of the wingnuts in their varying condemnations and pretense that gay rights is somehow an assault on human rights instead of a core component of human rights it is stories like this. The world really is changing & for the better :)

    Posted by: rjinva | Jan 28, 2014 12:15:53 PM

  6. Congratulations Conner! I wish you a happy and authentic life!

    Posted by: Jim | Jan 28, 2014 12:19:41 PM

  7. Step by step... this is a big step. I hope him all the best.

    Posted by: Matt27 | Jan 28, 2014 12:24:34 PM

  8. It's worth pointing out that he came out as bi. That doesn't seem to get enough visibility all the time.

    This young leader deserves our respect.

    Posted by: Randy | Jan 28, 2014 12:28:09 PM

  9. This is the new generation, and they don't think the same way the older generations do. Thank goodness!

    Posted by: Jack M | Jan 28, 2014 12:32:34 PM

  10. Well met, brother!

    Posted by: Little Kiwi | Jan 28, 2014 12:34:59 PM

  11. There've been several HS footballers that came out, so are we saying none went on to college football?

    Posted by: anon | Jan 28, 2014 12:38:13 PM

  12. I think Brian Sims came out while on the football team at Bloomsburg University.

    All the same - Congratulations to Conner!

    Posted by: Bruce | Jan 28, 2014 12:40:33 PM

  13. Yes, but Brian didn't come out publicly until after he left school. That doesn't lessen the impact of what he did (coming out to his teammates while he was playing), but what Conner did has taken it to another level. Kudos to you, Conner--your visibility will help more kids in the closet than you can possibly imagine.

    Posted by: scooternva | Jan 28, 2014 12:50:29 PM

  14. This is a private university the size of a high school - so the significance for "College Football" is being oversold. Nonetheless, good for him and for us all.

    Posted by: kipp | Jan 28, 2014 1:06:20 PM

  15. Yay, Conner! And yay, everyone around you. Cool!

    Posted by: Michael in Toronto | Jan 28, 2014 1:12:50 PM

  16. Awesome! This is what a dignified, courageous man looks like. You'll notice that he does not call himself "queer," does not equate himself with a transsexual, nor does he otherwise behave like a clown. He simply is who he is.

    Posted by: Bob | Jan 28, 2014 1:38:46 PM

  17. He also didn't denigrate those who self-identify as Queer nor denigrate transsexuals, "Bob." Maybe Conner can donate you one of his balls, autographed!

    Posted by: Little Kiwi | Jan 28, 2014 1:43:46 PM

  18. He's come out of the closet as bisexual. I wish you would have mentioned that instead of going through contortions to avoid the word.

    Posted by: fliponymous | Jan 28, 2014 2:18:00 PM

  19. Connor
    Just put Willamette on my track list for College Football. Be keeping an eye on you next year. Congratulations on taking this brave stand and for all the good it will do the next generation.

    When you get a chance tell that big bruiser teammate who threatened to kick ass that we send him our love also.

    Posted by: SERIOUSLY | Jan 28, 2014 2:28:18 PM

  20. Wow! It's been a long time since I've played football,and I can remember being terrified that I'd be found out. I'm so glad& I thank him for his courage.

    Posted by: rebarb | Jan 28, 2014 2:54:29 PM

  21. Very small school in a fairly liberal town in Oregon. Let's wait for this to happen in Starksville and see what happens. But good for him anyway.

    Posted by: Craig | Jan 28, 2014 3:06:29 PM

  22. Not surprised at the reaction from teammates. The school is considered very liberal, and yes, it's very small. More "everyone knows everyone" environment. Maybe it's not a huge national story but these coming out stories are all part of a path that will lead to that one major coming out that we're waiting for. Until then lets celebrate yet another one of our own coming out and receiving a positive response. The youth are changing things when it comes to this issue.

    Posted by: Francis | Jan 28, 2014 3:31:49 PM

  23. Good for Mr. Mertens, and for his teammates and coaches to support him.

    Posted by: Drew | Jan 28, 2014 3:47:43 PM

  24. Aww! What a proud, courageous & inspiring guy! (Cute, too.)

    Posted by: Dback | Jan 28, 2014 3:55:45 PM

  25. What's with the Christian stuff?

    Posted by: DC Insider | Jan 28, 2014 4:04:31 PM

  26. 1 2 »

Post a comment


« «SF Art Student Recreates Meticulously-Detailed Boeing 777 Out Of Manila Folders: VIDEO« «