Air Force Academy sophomore Bradley Kim made history Friday when he became the first active football player in the Air Force, Army, Navy, or Marines to come out publicly as gay.
The Air Force Falcons represent the Colorado U.S. service academy in college football at the NCAA Division.
Kim, a Falcons safety and former high school football star, came out on Instagram.
“Jeremiah 29:11 God made me this way for a reason,” wrote Kim, a devout Christian. “I did not think this day would ever come, but I’ve finally reached the point where I am comfortable and confident enough with myself to say that I am gay. It’s been a long road to get to this point and I definitely would not be here without the love and support of my amazing family, teammates and coaches here at the academy, and my equally amazing friends. I feel blessed to have such receptive and understanding people in my life.”
“I hope that I can serve as an example to those who are allowing their fear of acceptance to change who they are,” Kim continued. “I almost gave up my dream of playing division 1 football for fear of not being accepted by everyone, but today I am happy to say that I am a cadet at the Air Force Academy playing the sport I love with amazing people standing behind me and supporting me.”
“If anyone feels like they don’t have a voice or feel like they are alone, just know there are plenty of people out there like you and me, and more that are willing to talk to you about it. God bless all and thank you to everyone who has made me feel comfortable to live my most genuine life.”
Unfortunately, Kim has since made his Instagram and Twitter accounts private.
— You Can Play Project (@YouCanPlayTeam) July 27, 2018
“The biggest reason I want to share this is to be able to reach people who are in similar situations struggling with the same things I have struggled with,” Kim tells Outsports. “I want to be that example for kids that you can be gay, you can pursue your dreams, and you can have an athletic career.”
Kim had already come out to his parents, as well as many of his classmates, teammates, and coaches. He says everyone, including head Falcons coach Troy Calhoun, reacted with full support. In fact, his fellow defensive backs gave him a standing ovation.
“They tell me they appreciate the fact that I felt confident enough, and they meant enough, for me to tell them,” he says, adding that the warm reception encouraged him to come out publicly on social media.
“I’ve spent too many years worrying what other people will think and letting it affect what I do in my daily life. And I’m kind of done with that. It doesn’t affect my ability to play football. It doesn’t affect my ability to serve my country. No one cares here. We all go through the same thing, we all go through basic training. What we go through going through the Academy goes way deeper than worrying about what someone will think.”
Kim, who has spoken to numerous gay college football players and other gay athletes, credits Willamette alum Conner Mertens for helping guide him through his coming out. Mertens is considered the first college football player to come out publicly while still on the active roster.
After graduating from the Air Force Academy and serving in the military, Kim hopes to pursue a career in music.