University of Massachusetts shooting guard Derrick Gordon made history Friday night when he became the first openly gay athlete to play in an NCAA Division One men’s basketball game.
He finished with 17 points as UMass defeated Siena 95-87, including two free throws with 18 seconds left on the clock.
A crowd of more than 8,000 students—the largest season opener at U Mass’ Mullins Center in nearly 20 years—cheered Gordon on enthusiastically. “I went into it like a regular game,” he told the New York Times. “I’ve been here before.”
Since Gordon, 22, came out in April he’s participated in Nike’s #BeTrue t-shirt, been active in LGBT advocacy and dated CSI actor Gerrald McCullouch.
In an interview with the Boston Herald, Gordon revealed that Jason Collins has been a huge source of inspiration.
“I said, ‘If he’s in the NBA and he’s openly gay then maybe I can be the same way,’ ” he told the paper. “And when he played for Brooklyn, I saw a YouTube video of him coming into the game and the whole crowd stood up and applauded. It was, like, ’man, he has a lot of people supporting him.’ That did it for me.”