American football star Carl Nassib has been hailed as an icon after he became the first active NFL player to publicly come out as gay.

The Las Vegas Raiders player made the personal announcement in an Instagram video as Pride Month enters its final week.

Speaking from his home in West Chester, Pennsylvania, the 28-year-old told his 160,000 followers: “I just want to take a quick moment to say that I’m gay.

“I’ve been meaning to do this for a while, but I finally feel comfortable enough to get it off my chest.”

He added he was a “pretty private person” but decided to speak out because he believed “representation and visibility are so important”.

He added in a lengthy written statement that he had “agonised over this moment for the last 15 years” and that it wasn’t until recently – thanks to the support of his family and friends – that it seemed possibly for him to “say publicly and proudly that I’m gay.”

The defensive lineman also thanked his teammates and coaches for their “respect and acceptance”, adding: “I would not have been able to do this without them.”

Nassib’s declaration has been met with an outpouring of love and praise, with the Raiders and the NFL itself among those to share their pride in him:

Here’s just a glimpse at the messages of admiration shared by countless other people on Twitter alone:

Nasib, who spent time at the Cleveland Browns and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers before joining the Raiders in 2020, said in his video: “I actually hope one day videos like this and the whole coming out process are just not necessary.

“But until then I’m going to do my best to cultivate a culture that’s accepting, that’s compassionate and I’m going to start by donating 100,000 dollars (£72,000) to The Trevor Project.”

The Trevor Project is a charity focused on suicide prevention in the LGBT community in the US.

Nassib’s announcement follows defensive end Michael Sam coming out as gay ahead of the NFL draft in 2014. Sam was subsequently drafted by the St Louis Rams in the seventh round but cut from their roster before the season began.

He also spent time with the Dallas Cowboys but did not appear in an NFL game. He later played for the Montreal Alouettes in the Canadian Football League.

Former LA Galaxy wide man and USA international Robbie Rogers was the first openly gay man to play in one of America’s big five sports leagues when he came out in February 2013. NBA centre Jason Collins came out later that year and had a short spell with the Brooklyn Nets in 2014.

The NFL has announced plans to return to London this October with two games scheduled to be played at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium.

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