I’m Coming Out

Byron Perkins Makes History as the First Openly Gay Football Player at an HBCU

Congrats are in order for Hampton University student Byron Perkins, as he becomes the first out gay football player at a Historically Black College or University (HBCU). Perkins came out via an Instagram story stating, “I have come to understand that life is precious and I could be gone at any moment, therefore, I will no longer be living a lie”. he added, “No one should have to live a life crippled by what society thinks.”

The Chicago, Illinois native was playing offense, defense, and special teams in high school before attending Purdue University, where he played football for the Purdue Boilermakers. Perkins transferred to Hampton University, where he is a junior and a defensive back for the Hampton Pirates. This means that he’ll have one-and-a-half seasons as an openly gay Division 1 football player at an HBCU. 

With six games so far into this year’s season, Perkins has recorded 16 tackles, two deflected passes, and one interception. 


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A post shared by Byron Perkins (@byron.perkinz)

In conversation with OutSports, Perkins stated, “I’ve been self-reflective and trying to prioritize what makes me happy and makes me feel alive,” he said. “I thought it could be just football and school, but there was a component missing. And recently I’ve been able to figure out that I haven’t been fully happy because everyone didn’t know who I was. Authenticity is everything to me.”

But his authenticity has been met with mixed responses. His coaches have provided their support to him, while other responses he fears come from a religious standpoint. 

“You can be gay and be religious,” he said to OutSports. “I’m a God-fearing man. I love Christ. I just want to be better than the man I was the day before, and I want to help people.”

That help he’s trying to provide is to other Black gay men wrestling with accepting their sexualities. Perkins is particularly striving to support Black gay men who attend HBCUs.


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A post shared by Byron Perkins (@byron.perkinz)

“Especially at an HBCU, young Black gay men need an outlet,” he said. “They need a support system. There hasn’t been an out gay football athlete at an HBCU. I want to end the stigma of what people think. I want people to know they can be themselves.”

Many other Black queer men will look to Perkins’ example and hopefully see that they too can proudly be Black and queer. Perkins understands the effects his actions have and wants them to shine a positive light on being Black and queer. 

“It’s about that kid who’s going to see this and think he can be himself too.”


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*Header photo credit: Chris Brown

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