A defensive back for the U.S. Air Force Academy’s football team came out Friday as the first openly gay football player to play for one of the three major U.S. service academy teams.
Sophomore Bradley Kim announced his sexual orientation to teammates, on social media and in OutSports.com, the Colorado Springs Gazette reported. The academy is located in Colorado Springs, Colo.
Kim wrote on social media that he is now comfortable and confident enough in himself to say that he is gay. The safety for the Falcons said he hopes he can be an example for people who fear they won’t be accepted.
“If anyone feels like they don’t have a voice or feel like they are alone, just know there are plenty of people out there like you and me, and more that are willing to talk to you about it,” Kim reportedly wrote in a Instagram post.
“To our knowledge, it’s safe to say Kim is the first Division I military academy football player to come out,” Stephen Peters II, founder of the advocacy group the American Military Partner Association, said.
“To our knowledge, it’s safe to say Kim is the first Division I military academy football player to come out.”
Kim, who is half-Korean and half-German, credits his network of gay athlete friends for his courage to come out, Outsports.com reported. Those friends include Conner Mertens, a former Willamette University football player.
“The positive reaction Conner got from his team is probably the biggest reason I’m able to come out to my team,” Kim said of Mertens. “He’s just a genuine person. He’ll reach out just to make sure I’m doing OK. Just the type of person Conner is helped me a lot.”
Several of Kim’s teammates sent him messages of support through social media.
“I can’t imagine the amount of courage it took for him to open up about this,” teammate Demani Hansford said, according to the Gazette.
“I can’t imagine the amount of courage it took for him to open up about this.”
Various team coaches, including head coach Troy Calhoun, also supported Kim, Outsports.com reported.
“They (teammates and coaches) tell me they appreciate the fact that I felt confident enough, and they meant enough, for me to tell them,” Kim said.
Air Force Academy officials said the academy strives to foster a culture where everyone gives and receives dignity and respect.
Other current Division I football players who’ve come out as gay include My-King Johnson (Arizona), Scott Frantz (Kansas State) and Xavier Colvin (Butler), USA Today reported.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.