Follow breaking news @lgbtqnation
Coming Out

Willamette kicker is first active college football player to come out as LGBT

Tuesday, January 28, 2014
APConner Mertens

AP
Conner Mertens

SALEM, Ore. — Willamette University freshman kicker Conner Mertens has come out as bisexual, becoming the first active college football player to come out as LGBT.

Outsports.com reports that Mertens, 19, who is set to be the front-runner for the team’s placekicker position in 2014, first came out to head coach Glen Fowles, and then asked for some time to announce it to his teammates.

Mertens 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 on Monday evening, Mertens did in fact tell world in a letter posted to his Twitter account.

Fowles said Mertens’ teammates have given him their “unwavering support.”

“They were supportive because he’s one of their teammates. It was impressive. After that meeting I congratulated the coaches for recruiting good men. We’ve got something special here. I was so proud of those guys. If that’s the future of young men in America, we’ve got a shot. It was awesome,” said Fowles.

Advertisement
Freshman linebacker Kyle Shaver, who is part of the team’s leadership group, told OutSports.com that the team would not accept any type of homophobia and that anyone who is not OK with Mertens being bisexual will have to keep it internalized.

One of the team’s more aggressive players, whose reaction was feared by Mertens because he has a reputation for seeking out fights, had the following to say: “If anyone has a problem with Conner, I’ll kick your ass.”

Willamette issued a statement supporting Mertens’ decision, saying the university “respects his contribution to a more humane and just world.”

A profile of Mertens and his coming out journey is at Outsports.

Share this article with your friends and followers:

Archives: , , , , ,

Filed under: LGBTQ Life, [ Editor's Picks ], [ Trending ]

44 more reader comments:

  1. FANTASTIC!!!!

    Posted on Tuesday, January 28, 2014 at 7:11pm
  2. Bravo!

    Posted on Tuesday, January 28, 2014 at 7:12pm
  3. But he’s 12. How can he be going to college at 12?!?

    Posted on Tuesday, January 28, 2014 at 7:12pm
  4. Must be high IQ & High Honor in High School perhaps?

    Replied on Tuesday, January 28, 2014 at 7:13pm
  5. I'm sure he's not 12, but wowie does he look young. I must be getting old. >.<

    Replied on Tuesday, January 28, 2014 at 7:18pm
  6. He looks about 18 to me. lol

    Replied on Tuesday, January 28, 2014 at 7:36pm
  7. He just LOOKS underage. So do a lot of young adults on the US' West Coast. I also look underage. People ask me all the time, "you're over 18, right?" because they think I'm only 14 or so.

    Replied on Tuesday, January 28, 2014 at 7:47pm
  8. he’s a hottie!

    Posted on Tuesday, January 28, 2014 at 7:13pm
  9. congrats to him, he is adorable!!!

    Posted on Tuesday, January 28, 2014 at 7:14pm
  10. Sheldon graduated when he was 8.. So I guess everything is possible

    Posted on Tuesday, January 28, 2014 at 7:15pm
  11. YEAH Oregon! It’s Willamette tho :)

    Posted on Tuesday, January 28, 2014 at 7:15pm
  12. Beautiful in all ways.

    Posted on Tuesday, January 28, 2014 at 7:16pm
  13. congrats stay strong

    Posted on Tuesday, January 28, 2014 at 7:16pm
  14. Congratulations Young Man! BE BRAVE!!!

    Posted on Tuesday, January 28, 2014 at 7:18pm
  15. Why do gays think they have to announce who they want to have sex with?I think it is corny and stupid.Sex is private and it ain’t no body’s business .

    Posted on Tuesday, January 28, 2014 at 7:19pm
  16. oh please...

    Replied on Tuesday, January 28, 2014 at 7:23pm
  17. when lgbt community has the same rights as the rest of the world maybe "coming out" wouldn't be needed

    Replied on Tuesday, January 28, 2014 at 7:24pm
  18. I do no agree with you- most str8s announce they are str8 by flaunting their life styles in the face of those who are gay/bi. If you do not like the idea of a person coming out then go hide in a cave and deal with you ugliness

    Replied on Tuesday, January 28, 2014 at 7:27pm
  19. Cheryl Ahmed, when did he ever announce who he's having sex with? All he said is that he identifies as bi and has a boyfriend. I don't see anything wrong with that when straight people say they have an opposite-gender partner.

    Replied on Tuesday, January 28, 2014 at 8:57pm
  20. Congrats

    Posted on Tuesday, January 28, 2014 at 7:20pm
  21. So awesome – inspiring

    Posted on Tuesday, January 28, 2014 at 7:21pm
  22. Mazel Tov!

    Posted on Tuesday, January 28, 2014 at 7:22pm
  23. Good luck to the brave young man!

    Posted on Tuesday, January 28, 2014 at 7:27pm
  24. Who is the perv that said he’s hot? That is sick

    Posted on Tuesday, January 28, 2014 at 7:27pm
  25. A lot of young people in coastal Bleu states look younger than they are, including me. It's easy to think he's 15 and under, but health and beauty in WA, OR, CA, New England, some of the Rocky Mountains, and parts of south Florida are way ahead of the rest of the country. Plus you could also argue that I look like a child 15 and under, but that's because he and I avoid tobacco, avoid alcohol, avoid fast food, avoid drugs, and avoid sunbathing.

    Replied on Tuesday, January 28, 2014 at 7:54pm
  26. That’s so great! I’m really happy for him. :) And I’m glad his team is supportive!

    Posted on Tuesday, January 28, 2014 at 7:27pm
  27. By flaunting you mean ?

    Posted on Tuesday, January 28, 2014 at 7:28pm
  28. I loved what the “tough guy” said “you have a problem with that, i’ll kick your ass” Bravo for his teams support and bravo to Conner for feeling that he could!

    Posted on Tuesday, January 28, 2014 at 7:38pm
  29. YEA!! This makes me so happy!

    Posted on Tuesday, January 28, 2014 at 7:40pm
  30. Cute

    Posted on Tuesday, January 28, 2014 at 7:43pm
  31. You have a great supporting team there. Good luck too all the team May you have the best year ever.

    Posted on Tuesday, January 28, 2014 at 7:43pm
  32. I need some lesbian friends.

    Posted on Tuesday, January 28, 2014 at 7:43pm
  33. what is your story?
    http://youtu.be/BuMP1QuxUJ0

    Posted on Tuesday, January 28, 2014 at 7:47pm
  34. Congratulations my friend

    Posted on Tuesday, January 28, 2014 at 7:49pm
  35. ☺️

    Posted on Tuesday, January 28, 2014 at 7:52pm
  36. Good for him.

    Posted on Tuesday, January 28, 2014 at 7:56pm
  37. Kudos for your courage young man

    Posted on Tuesday, January 28, 2014 at 8:05pm
  38. Wats lgbt?

    Posted on Tuesday, January 28, 2014 at 8:06pm
  39. Lesbian, gay, bi, transgender

    Replied on Tuesday, January 28, 2014 at 8:55pm
  40. Cheryl Ahmed….gay people are not “announcing who we want to have sex with.” First of all, being gay or straight is so much more than who you sleep with. Are you defined by your sexuality? Neither are we. Someone who has hidden a part of themselves is taking a huge risk when they step out of the closet. Far too many gay people have their families and friends shun them. In many states, they can be fired from their jobs or be evicted by their landlords. So, yeah….this is a huge deal. We risk losing EVERYTHING because we decide it’s more important to be true to ourselves. We just want to be able to freely hold our partner’s hand or give them a kiss in public, and we shouldnt have to hide our affection (no, I’m not talking about steamy make out sessions…that’s gross for any couple, gay or straight). We just want to be able to bring our partner to parties and not have to lie and say they are our roommate. In the testosterone driven sport of football, gay players take a huge risk in being ostracized or even kicked off the team. This young man is very brave.

    Posted on Tuesday, January 28, 2014 at 8:33pm
  41. Congrat’s Dude

    Posted on Tuesday, January 28, 2014 at 8:50pm
  42. One of the team’s more aggressive players, whose reaction was feared by Mertens because he has a reputation for seeking out fights, had the following to say: “If anyone has a problem with Conner, I’ll kick your ass.” ….. now THAT’s cool !!

    Posted on Tuesday, January 28, 2014 at 8:52pm
  43. What a stud

    Posted on Tuesday, January 28, 2014 at 9:09pm
  44. Congratulations Conner: I am very proud of you!

    Posted on Tuesday, January 28, 2014 at 9:23pm