Hampton football player comes out as gay, possibly first HBCU athlete to do so

Byron Perkins said his main goal is to support other queer Black men having a difficult time, particularly at HBCUs.

A football player from Hampton has announced that he is gay, possibly making him the first athlete from a historically Black college and university to do so.

According to The Washington Post, junior defensive back Byron Perkins, a redshirt, said Wednesday that he would no longer be living a lie. He contended that being gay is not just a choice; it’s simply who he is.

Byron Perkins
Defensive back Byron Perkins during a Purdue football practice in August 2018. Perkins, who now plays for Hampton University, has come out as a gay, possibly making him the first footballer at an HBCU to do so. (Photo: John Terhune/Journal & Courier)

“I’ve been self-reflective and trying to prioritize what makes me happy and makes me feel alive,” Perkins said, according to The Post. “I thought it could be just football and school, but there was a component missing. And recently I’ve been able to figure out that I haven’t been fully happy because everyone didn’t know who I was. Authenticity is everything to me.”

While he is thought to be the first athlete at an HBCU to come out as gay while actively playing football, Perkins follows in the footsteps of Arizona State’s Edward “Chip” Sarafin, who did so in 2014, and Kansas State’s Scott Frantz in 2017.

Standing at 6-foot-3 and weighing 190 pounds, Perkins initially committed to Purdue University and played for the Boilermakers in 2018 and 2019 before transferring to Hampton. He has recorded 16 solo and assisted tackles, an interception, and two pass breakups through six games this season.

The Chicago native told Outsports that he was under pressure in his life about a month ago as a result of not being true to himself. Since coming out, he said his coaches have supported him, and his teammates have been accepting, but with some mixed feelings. His main goal for revealing his true self, he maintained, is to support other gay Black men who are having a difficult time.

“Especially at an HBCU, young Black gay men need an outlet,” Perkins said, The Post reported. “They need a support system. There hasn’t been an out gay football athlete at an HBCU. I want to end the stigma of what people think. I want people to know they can be themselves.”

Perkins, a devout Christian, recognized that some people’s perceptions of his sexual orientation may be influenced by their religious beliefs. However, he wants people to know that it is possible to be both homosexual and religious, Outsports reported.

“I’m a God-fearing man,” Perkins told Outsports. “I love Christ. I just want to be better than the man I was the day before, and I want to help people.”

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