*The following article contains discussion of suicide/self-harm.
Isaac Humphries, a professional basketball player for Melbourne United–which is part of Australia’s National Basketball League (NBL)–came out as gay with an emotionally powerful speech in front of his Australian league teammates in their locker room.
"This is probably going to be one of the hardest conversations I'll ever have in my life," said the Sydney native, "but life is about doing hard things and learning from them and making a difference through those hard times. So bear with me."
The 24-year-old–a 7 foot center who previously played for the Atlanta Hawks and the University of Kentucky–said he "fell into a very dark place, a very lonely place" that didn't allow him to be who he was.
As a result, he said that he attempted to take his own life.
"The main reason behind me becoming so low and being in that point is because I was very much struggling with my sexuality and coming to terms with the fact that I'm gay."
"And I hated it about myself. I was disgusted at myself."
You can watch his speech, here.
Humphries touched on the stigmatization of being gay within the realm of sports that forces many closeted athletes to repress their identity out of shame and at the risk of losing their careers.
"I thought that I could not be that person within our environment and within our basketball environment."
Humphries said his wake-up call wasn't until he was in a community full of “pride and happiness and joy”–that was revealed as Los Angeles in an open letter.
"But then came the big question of how do I be a basketball player and how do I join a new team when I've finally come to terms with this about myself and I don't want to hide who I am anymore."
Holding back tears, he said that if we was to join a team, he was going to come out publicly and make sure people know they don't have to hide who they are "just because you're an athlete."
"But I do want to say that we, as professional athletes, we have a responsibility to set examples for people."
"And the truth is there are so many people in other worlds that are struggling every single day and don't know how to get up. Don't know how to exist. And I know how that feels, and I want to represent those people."
“That’s my goal behind this, [to] make sure people know that you can be whatever you want, no matter who you are and what you do."
"It has nothing to do with your sexuality or who you are or who you’re meant to be or who you’re expected to be. I just want to be myself."
"I’ve discovered this is my purpose in life, and I’m going to give it my best go.”
The inspirational video concluded with fellow teammates applauding him–many even offering him hugs.
Twitter gave him props for opening up about his struggles.
Following his speech, retired NBA star Jason Collins, who came out as gay while an active professional player, lauded Humphries on Twitter.
Thank you, Isaac, for your courage, for speaking your truth, and for letting others who may be struggling know they are not alone.
Hopefully, one day, we can all openly and unapologetically live as our authentic selves without having to explain it to the masses.
LGBTQ+ Youth can get help through:
- TrevorChat — 24/7/365 at https://www.thetrevorproject.org/get-help-now/#services
- TrevorLifeline — phone service available 24/7 at 1-866-488-7386
- TrevorText — Text “START” to 678678. Available 24/7/365.
- TrevorSpace — online international peer-to-peer community for LGBTQ young people and their friends at https://www.trevorspace.org/
- Trevor Support Center — LGBTQ youth & allies can find answers to FAQs and explore resources at https://www.thetrevorproject.org/resources/trevor-support-center/#sm.0000121hx9lvicotqs52mb1saenel