College football season starts in full this weekend and seven openly gay or bi players will take the field in various divisions. This is the same number as in 2018.
Some players from last year’s list have graduated, while others are no longer playing the sport. One player’s team has already had its season opener, while the rest start this weekend or next.
There is one out player in college football top division, FBS, offensive lineman Scott Frantz of Kansas State in the Big 12. The rest are in Division II, III, NAIA and one in junior college.
Among those coming back is Wyatt Pertuset, a wide receiver who made history last year by being the first openly gay college football player to score a touchdown in a game. The feat was notable enough to be recognized by ESPN and was voted the team’s No. 2 moment of 2018.
With there being an estimated 81,000 college football players at all levels, to have only seven publicly out shows how much work is still to do. If even just 1% of all players identified as gay or bi, that would leave 810.
There are certainly players who are out to some degree on their teams, but these seven are the only ones to go public in the media and they are to be applauded. Let’s hope their ranks grow even more.
The seven players are:
- Scott Frantz, a Kansas State offensive lineman (FBS), who will be a senior.
- Jacob Van Ittersum, an offensive lineman at Northwood University in Michigan (Division II), who will be a senior. Van Ittersum identifies as bi.
- Wyatt Pertuset, a Capital University (Ohio, Division III) wide receiver and punter who will be a senior.
- Cy Hicks, a College of Idaho (NAIA) offensive lineman who will be a sophomore.
- Avery Saffold, an Amherst College in Massachusetts (Division III) defensive back who will be a senior.
- Christian Zeitvogel, a Kalamazoo College (Michigan Division III) offensive lineman who will be a sophomore.
- My-King Johnson, who just enrolled at New Mexico Military Institute, a junior college, after transferring from the University of Arizona. Johnson is on the team as a pass-rushing linebacker. New Mexico Military won its season opener, 47-3, and Johnson said, “I played really well.”
Saffold, who is one of his team’s captains, came out publicly in July and said being himself has been nothing but a positive.
“Being out has made it easier for me to be a leader on my team,” Saffold said. “I felt like before, I was hiding a part of me from my teammates and it affected the way I was able to lead. Since then, I my confidence has grown a ton and I’ve been able to play freely.”
After his story appeared, one of his teammates had nothing but praise:
“Just read your story man, very well versed and confident love to hear it. I admire your courage like crazy and am proud of the decision you made to come out.”
You can follow these seven players on social media:
If you are a college football who is out and wants to tell your story, contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org