Joe Biden thanks athletes Carl Nassib and Kumi Yokoyama for bravely coming out: ‘I’m so proud’

On the left: Carl Nassib in his uniform on the pitch. On the right: Kumi Yokoyama in their football jersey on the pitch.

US president Joe Biden thanked athletes Carl Nassib and Kumi Yokoyama for coming out as LGBT+ in a heartfelt tweet (22 June).

Nassib, a Las Vegas Raiders defensive lineman, became the first active National Football League (NFL) player to come out as gay on Monday (21 June).

Japanese footballer Kumi Yokoyama came out as trans last week, making him the most high-profile athlete in Japan to do so.

Both men, Biden said, are helping to pave the way for “countless kids”.

“To Carl Nassib and Kumi Yokoyama – two prominent, inspiring athletes who came out this week: I’m so proud of your courage,” the president wrote.

Because of you, countless kids around the world are seeing themselves in a new light today.”

The president’s tweets come at a perilous time for trans youth across dozes of US states, where legislators have mounted vicious campaigns to stop them from competing in school sports.

Mainly Republican lawmakers in Montana, West Virginia, Alabama, Mississippi, South Dakota and Tennessee have all bulldozed bans that have shuddered fear among trans youth and cause their rankings to slip in terms of how safe they are for LGBT+ Americans.

Amid ongoing attacks on LGBT+ athletes, Nassib and Yokoyama both bravely came forward with their truths.

“I just wanted to take a quick moment to say that I’m gay,” Nassib, 28, said in an almost casual video posted to Instagram.

Carl Nassib, #94 of the Las Vegas Raiders. flexes while smiling during warmups

Carl Nassib, #94 of the Las Vegas Raiders. flexes while smiling during warmups. (Ethan Miller/Getty Images)

“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, the best family, friends and job a guy can ask for.”

“I just think that representation and visibility are so important,” he added.

Yokoyama, who played on Japan’s national team in the 2019 FIFA Women’s World Cup, came out in a YouTube video on Sunday (20 June).

“I’ve dated several women over the years but I had to stay closeted in Japan,” they said.

“In Japan I’d always be asked if I had a boyfriend, but here [in the US] I’m asked if I have a boyfriend or girlfriend.

“When my girlfriend said there was no reason for me to stay closeted, it really hit me. Coming out wasn’t something I was enthusiastic about, but if I think about my life going forward, it would be harder to live closeted so I found the courage to come out.”