Alan Gendreau, a former kicker for Middle Tennessee State University and the leading scorer in Sun Belt Conference history, is now an NFL hopeful — an openly gay NFL hopeful.
While speculation persists that a current NFL player, or players, might soon “come out,” others speculate that the first openly gay athlete on a professional U.S. team would likely be one who ascends from the college ranks to the NFL, NBA, NHL or MLB.
And one prospect would be Gendreau, the subject of an extensive profile on Tuesday by OutSports.com.
The Orlando, Fla., native knew he was gay at a very young age. He came out to friends and family at 16, started dating boys in high school and had on-again, off-again relationships with men through college.
“When you know, you know,” he said with a smile.
Gendreau has also long been a devout Christian, raised in a deeply religious household. It’s a tough mix, being gay and Christian. When he came out to his parents in high school, they put him in church-based counseling. That lasted four sessions.
His sexual orientation collided with his hometown church during the winter break of his freshman year in college. Back home in Orlando for three weeks, Gendreau brought his then-boyfriend to a church gathering with friends from high school.
When parents of other youth got wind that the mystery guest was his boyfriend and Gendreau was gay, they demanded the church leadership remove him from the their worship team. They complied.
Outsports co-founder Cyd Zeigler notes that Gendreau is not looking to make history as the first openly gay NFL player, but that his goal is to be who he is.
“All those kids playing sports in the South or anywhere else,” Gendreau said, “kids who are afraid to be themselves, I just want to put my arm around them and help them. And if my story can do that, I figure I owe it to them to give it the best ending I can.”