Bryant assistant coach Chris Burns comes out

Outsports has published a first-person account by Bryant University assistant basketball coach Chris Burns, who reveals he’s gay. This officially makes Burns the first Division One men’s college basketball coach to ever publicly come out.

USA Today Sports reports that Burns announced the news to his team several weeks back, telling them, “There are parts of this business that lead me to believe what I’m about to tell you is not acceptable here… This is something I struggle with. It’s made me think I’m not supposed to be here… I’m a gay man.”

Senior forward Curtis Oakley told USA Today Sports, “There was an initial shock factor, but everyone was like ‘Yo, Burns, we rockin’ with you. It was all love.”

Duke coach Mike Krzyzeweski said, “One act of courage produces another. When I think of this, I think of tossing a big stone into a lake or a pond. The ripples he’s creating are huge. To me, it’s a huge step in the right direction for our sport because it can allow others who don’t feel like they can be who they are to do the same.”

Burns writes in Outsports:

Since I started telling people in college basketball over the last few months, I’ve realized my fears were far worse than reality. I’ve realized that people, for the most part, are human beings first. For a guy who’s relatively cynical and can be negative, the reactions of people in my sport and in my life have shut me right up and reenergized my hope in the human spirit, in empathy….

Like the people before me, I hope my story empowers someone, even if it’s just one person. But it’s a process for everyone.

My advice: Take your time and be comfortable. Everyone’s personal journey is special and unique, and no one should feel pressure to do anything they aren’t comfortable with.

But always know this: When the time comes to share your true self, you will feel so much love and relief and hope and freedom. It’s a truly special feeling, and I just can’t thank enough every single person who has helped guide and support me to this point.

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