CONTENT WARNING: This article references attempted suicide.

Aussie basketball player Isaac Humphries has come out as gay, making him the first openly gay man in the National Basketball League. Say it with me now: king shit.

Humphries has received widespread support after a video of him coming out to his Melbourne United teammates gained tonnes of traction online. In the video, Humphries told the team about how he had struggled with his identity and mental health.

“A few years ago, I fell into a very dark place, a very lonely place,” he said.

“I couldn’t be who I am, and I attempted to take my life.

“And the main reason behind 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 touched on the incredibly difficult experience of internalised homophobia, saying he was “disgusted” at himself.

“I thought I could not be that person… within a basketball environment,” he explained.

“It wasn’t until I was in a community that’s full of pride and happiness and joy, and it was a big wake up call for me.”

Rightio, I’m full weeping into my keyboard.

Humphries said he had to navigate playing basketball, plus joining a new team while celebrating and accepting himself.

“I don’t want to hide who I am anymore.

“I decided that if I’m going to join a team, 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 I’m an athlete.”

He then brought up the importance of athletes setting an example for other people, saying his goal was to make sure people know “you can be whatever you want, no matter who you are and what you do”.

“You can be ‘Big Ice’ and be gay, and you can still be a great basketball player and be gay,” he added.

I must confess: I have never before heard the name “Big Ice” but I am crying anyway.

The video finished with shots of Humphries and his teammates hugging. As it should be.

Humphries has since copped widespread support, with his story making waves in the US too. He previously played for a number of clubs in the US, including in the NBA.

In a statement Pride in Sport’s national program manager Beau Newell applauded Humphries’ coming out.

“Humphries, an elite, professional male basketball player, is the one of only few elite male athletes in Australia to come out publicly as gay,” he said.

“His bravery is to be congratulated and his journey shows the unfortunate reality that many athletes face when they are not able to enjoy the sport they love as their true selves.”

Given we’re in the year of our Lord 2022, it’s wild to me that Humphries is the only actively-playing, openly gay top-tier men’s basketballer in the world. US basketballer Jason Collins came out as gay back in 2013 and retired back in 2014.

It makes it all the more impressive that Humphries is sharing his story, and it will hopefully mean more professional athletes feel supported in coming out.

A few weeks ago, Josh Cavallo commemorated the one year anniversary of his own public coming out.

“Today marks one year since I stood in front of a camera not knowing if there will ever be a future for me in sport,” he wrote on Instagram.

“Taking that step in my life was not only for myself but for the people in this world that believe there is no place for them in sport.”

Honestly, it makes me pretty bloody emosh to know kids growing up today will have more and more openly queer athletes to look up to.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m off to grab the tissues and maybe shoot some hoops.

If you need mental health support, please call Lifeline on 13 11 14 or chat online.
Under 25? You can reach Kids Helpline at 1800 55 1800 or
chat online.
You can also reach the Suicide Call Back Service on 1300 659 467 or
chat online.

If you require immediate assistance, please call 000. 

If you’d like to talk about the issues raised in this story, you can call the QLife LGBTI peer support hotline on 1800 184 527 or chat online.  QLife operates between 3pm and midnight daily.

Image: Twitter / Melbourne United / Isaac Humphries