Australian basketball star becomes only currently active top-tier male player to come out as gay

“You can still be a great basketball player and be gay. You can do whatever you want, it has nothing to do with your sexuality".

Australian basketball player Isaac Humphries.
Image: Instagram: @IsaacHumphries7

Australian basketball star, Isaac Humphries, has publicly come out, making him the only active male player in a top-tier league currently to identify as gay. In a video posted to social media on November 15, Humphries is shown confiding in his teammates about his sexuality, and describing his difficult journey with self acceptance.

Currently playing for Melbourne United in Australia’s National Basketball League (NBL), the six-foot 11-inch centre also played Division 1 NCAA college basketball, and had spells in the NBA, the G-League and the Basketball League of Serbia. Until now, he never spoke about his sexuality out of fear that it would negatively impact his career, and he described coming out to his teammates as “probably one of the hardest conversations” he’d ever had in his life.

“But life’s about doing hard things and learning from them and making a difference through those hard times,” he stated. 

“A few years ago, I fell into a very dark place, a very lonely place, I couldn’t be who I am and I attempted to take my life,” the 24-year-old recalls. “The main reason for 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.”

He continued: “I hated it about myself. I was disgusted at myself. I thought that I could not be that person within our environment, within a basketball environment.” The Australian explained that it wasn’t until he was in a community that was full of pride, happiness and joy that he realised he could be his true authentic self, and be accepted.

“But then came the big question mark 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.

“I decided that if I’m going to join a team, that I’m going to come out publicly and just make sure people know that you can live and you don’t have to hide just because you’re an athlete,” he emotionally stated.

“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 – make sure people know that you can be whatever you want no matter who you are or what you do.”

Humphries added: “You can still be a great basketball player and be gay. You can do whatever you want, 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.”

The Australian basketball star concluded his message to his teammates by saying: “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.”

After his brave statement, the player is embraced by coaches and squad members alike, with Head Coach Dean Vickerman saying: “We take great pride as a club to say that you felt that this was a safe enough place and a club that you could come and go ahead and announce this and be yourself.”

Vickerman also acknowledge the “massive impact” that Humphries courage will have on the basketball community, including for fans, athletes, front office people, coaches and more. 

“I’m so proud of you, that you’ve had the bravery at this time in your life to stand up and say ‘I want to make a difference to the community. Well done.”

Prominent figures within the sporting community commended the Australian, with the NBA, the world’s most successful basketball league, tweeting: “Isaac has our unwavering respect and support”.

Humphries is just the second-ever male basketballer to come out as gay while actively playing, following Jason Collins who did so in 2013 late in his career. The news also comes after another Australian, Josh Cavallo, made history in the footballing world when he came out as gay just over a year ago.

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