After a year of living publicly as his true self, Carl Nassib is looking to his future with optimism.
Nassib, who until March was a defensive lineman for the Las Vegas Raiders, made history in June 2021 as the first active NFL player to come out as gay. He acknowledged the one-year anniversary of that life-changing moment in a “Good Morning America” interview that aired Tuesday.
“I came out to my close friends and family years ago. And I wanted to do it publicly because I wanted to stay ahead of the narrative,” he told “GMA” co-host Michael Strahan. “I just wanted to own the story and make sure I did it on my terms. One of my biggest fears was that I would only be remembered for being gay.”
Prior to his 2021 announcement, Nassib said he spent 15 years considering how to open up about his sexuality with the public. Eventually, he decided to do so in a short Instagram video released in June to coincide with LGBTQ Pride Month. Given the national attention that his words would attract, however, he experienced a fair amount of last-minute jitters.
“I stared at the phone for, like, an hour just looking at it, trying to hype myself up,” he recalled. “The last thing I said was like: ‘You know what ― for the kids.’ And I pressed post.”
Watch Carl Nassib’s “Good Morning America” appearance below.
Since then, the football player has become an outspoken LGBTQ rights advocate, and has donated to advocacy groups including the Trevor Project.
“When people come out, they’re coming out of the closet because they’re afraid,” Nassib told Strahan. “They have fear that they’re gonna have negative impact on their life, on their relationships, on their job. I just hoped that one day we don’t have those fears ― that’s the society I hope for one day. And I hope I can be a positive push in that direction.”
Nassib faces an uncertain future in the NFL after being released by the Raiders in March. Though he’s now a free agent, he said he wasn’t surprised by his release, and shrugged off the implication that the Raiders’ decision was somehow rooted in homophobia.
“I had a great relationship with my teammates,” Nassib explained. “I have so much love for Las Vegas. It allowed me to do a lot of great things. I think that there’ll be better opportunities in the future ... [I’ve] got a lot in the tank.”