Conner Mertens has become the first active college football player to come out, Outsports.com reports. The redshirt freshman kicker at Willamette University in Oregon, which competes in Division III, a lower level of college football, came out as bisexual to his teammates last night and then tweeted an open letter about his decision. He and coach Glen Fowles also spoke at length to Outsports writer Cyd Zeigler about the process and what Fowles described as the "unwavering support" of the Willamette coaching staff and team for Mertens' choice.
Mertens originally visited Fowles to tell him he was bisexual last week, Outsports reports. Mertens asked the second-year head coach a series of questions:
[He] asked Fowles if he was a good kicker. Fowles confirmed. He then asked if his role on the team would be affected by things he did off the field, or if he'd be judged by his performance. All that mattered to Fowles was whether he could kick that ball through those two goal posts. That was reassuring, Mertens said, because he had something very personal to share with his coach.
"I'm bisexual," Mertens told Fowles. "I like dudes. I have a boyfriend. And next week, I'm going to tell the world."
And that he did. "I hate the stereotypes that go along with liking the same sex. You don't have to follow the stereotype to be this way," Mertens said. "I made the decision that if I could help anyone else avoid feeling the way I felt, I would."
Read much more about Mertens' life and thought process here.