It has been a big week for athletes coming out. Kumi Yokoyama, a professional soccer player who has played in Japan, Germany, and the United States, came out as a transgender man, and in a revolutionary Instagram post, Carl Nassib, came out as gay and is now poised to become the first athlete to play in a professional game in the NFL while publicly out.
In a tweet yesterday evening, President Biden, who has positioned himself as a staunch ally to the LGBTQ community, celebrated the two athletes for their bravery.
Biden wrote, “To Carl Nassib and Kumi Yokoyama – two prominent, inspiring athletes who came out this week: I’m so proud of your courage. Because of you, countless kids around the world are seeing themselves in a new light today.”
To Carl Nassib and Kumi Yokoyama – two prominent, inspiring athletes who came out this week: I’m so proud of your courage. Because of you, countless kids around the world are seeing themselves in a new light today.
— President Biden (@POTUS) June 23, 2021
The Tweet has over 63,000 likes so far, though that’s nothing compared to the almost 700,000 that Nassib’s Instagram post has raked in. Nassib included a video and several screenshots of notes from his phone, explaining his decision to share the news now.
“I just wanted to take a quick moment to say that I’m gay,” he said in the video. “I’ve been meaning to do this for a while now, but I finally feel comfortable getting it off my chest. I really have the best life, I have the best family, friends and job a guy can ask for.”
He noted, “I’m a pretty private person so I hope you guys know that I’m really not doing this for attention. I just think that representation and visibility are so important. I actually hope that one day, videos like this and the whole coming out process are just not necessary, but until then I will do my best and my part to cultivate a culture that’s accepting and compassionate.”
Nassib then added, “I’m going to start by donating $100,000 to the Trevor Project. They’re an incredible organization, they’re the number one suicide-prevention service for LGBTQ youth in America, and they’re truly doing incredible things.”
Yokoyama came out in an interview with their former teammate, Yūki Nagasato, released on YouTube.
The 27-year-old, who is currently playing for the Washington Spirit in the pro soccer league NWSL, revealed that they had been transitioning for years and have already received gender-affirming care, but felt the need to stay closeted while playing in Japan.
Yokohama not only felt like they couldn’t be themself as a well-recognized soccer player in Japan, but they felt pressure to date men as well.
The Spirit showed their support for the news and shared that Yokoyama is now using they/them pronouns. The team’s head coach, Richie Burke, said after their most recent game, “We have no time for hate, we only have time for love in our football club. I love Kumi, always will, and I’ll always have a special place for somebody with that mentality.”
“They are very brave, they are very committed to this process, and if that’s what they want to do I’m going to do whatever I can do to support them. As long as they’re happy, I’m happy.”