Carl Nassib and his boyfriend Erik Gudzinas are going to have a memorable first Thanksgiving together. With the Las Vegas Raiders slated to play the Dallas Cowboys, Nassib will be spending a portion of his holiday lining up in front of 80,000 raging football fans at AT&T Stadium.
And Gudzinas will be in his corner, from wherever he may be watching.
Nassib revealed he’s dating Gudzinas on teammate Darren Waller’s podcast, using words that every LGBTQ person can relate to. We suppress our romantic emotions for years, and it’s powerful when we can finally let them out.
“I just wanted to be someone’s number one priority, and I couldn’t have that,” Nassib said. “So that was the one thing where I was like, ‘Man, I really fucking want that.’ But I got that now, so it’s good.”
Nassib’s coming out touched LGBTQ people across the world, including his boyfriend. In the interview with Waller, Nassib says Gudzinas wasn’t out to anybody when they first met.
“When I met my boyfriend, he wasn’t even out to his family,” Nassib said. “He was asking me for advice and I was like, ‘Dude, I’m just supportive. Fuck. I don’t know.’”
Nassib may be understated, but clearly his support helped Gudzinas, who turned 25 earlier this week, become more comfortable with his gay identity. Gudzinas shared a picture of the the two of them together on Instagram in September — right around when Nassib confirmed they’re dating.
This relationship is very much taking place in public, which isn’t guaranteed in the gay community, even after people come out. In college, I was keen to meet up for dates, but stopped short of going to gay bars or parties. The coming out process is a journey. It can take years to build confidence.
It’s apparent both Carl and Erik possess that. The Raiders’ lineman doesn’t keep his football and private life separated. Carl and Erik were together, for example, when the Raiders played the Steelers in Week 2.
Carl also shared a pic of him and Erik on his own public account. That means they’re Instagram official.
After being closeted, Gudzinas has melded his two worlds as well. Carl met his family on Halloween, and dressed as Pikachu. It’s the most wholesome gay Halloween photo I’ve seen on my Instagram feed — that’s for sure.
Carl and Erik both hail from Eastern Pennsylvania. Carl is from West Chester, which is a suburb about 35 miles from Philadelphia, and Erik attended high school in the Lehigh Valley, where he was a swimmer. (Fun fact: Erik went to the same high school as Lisa Ann, the adult film actress turned NFL analyst.)
Coincidently, Erik went to West Chester University of Pennsylvania, whereas Carl played football at Penn State. Nassib graduated from college in December 2015, about four years before Gudzinas.
They also have similar academic interests. Gudzinas got his masters in public health and currently works for a non-profit organization in Greater Philadelphia that assists adults with intellectual and behavioral challenges.
Nassib got his degree in biology, and would be a doctor if it weren’t for this little football thing. Nassib’s high school coach told the New York Times he thought Carl would run a hospital and be the chief surgeon.
The NFL’s first gay couple appears to be a perfect match, and it’s great they’re showing themselves to the world.
On Waller’s podcast, Nassib said he ultimately decided to publicly come out because he “felt an obligation to the LGBTQ+ community to bring representation.”
Carl and Erik sharing photos of themselves on Instagram is another form of representation. They already have a fan account on Twitter.
Gay sports couples do exist, and this one is giving us plenty to smile about as we head towards the holiday season.