Psychology expert reacts to former UK basketball player Isaac Humphries coming out

Psychology expert reacts to former UK basketball player Isaac Humphries coming out
Published: Nov. 16, 2022 at 5:32 PM EST
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LEXINGTON, Ky. (WKYT) - Former UK Basketball player Isaac Humphries has come out as gay and the news has gotten attention from several media sites around the world.

Humphries, who played for the cats from 2015 to 2017, now becomes the only openly gay man playing high-level professional basketball and one of a few openly gay pro athletes, overall.

He recently wrote an opinion piece, for CNN, talking about dark times including contemplating taking his own life because of his sexual identity. In the article, he opens up about being around the LGBTQ community and finding an environment that accepts him.

“I love myself and I finally am so happy and proud of myself of where I’ve come and I’m essentially starting a new life,” Humphries said.

Liz Sheehan teaches human sexuality UK’s Department of Psychology.

“Coming out is a risk, you don’t know when you are taking that step, what the reaction is going to be and I hope it is an overwhelmingly positive one for him,” Sheehan said.

Humphries is seven feet tall and about 250 pounds, playing high-level pro basketball. Sheehan says it can be risky for a person in Humphries’ profession, playing in a highly intense masculine environment to come out.

“And there is a stereotype and some prejudice that says, that if you are gay, you are not as masculine and so I can see how it could be particularly risky in that profession,” Sheehan said.

Other athletes to come out while playing, include Seton Hall basketball player Derrick Gordon. NFL defensive lineman Carl Nassib and NBA center Jason collins, who’s now retired.

the NBA sent a statement saying, “we are proud and grateful to Isaac for sharing his story. We know the real impact his honesty and courage will have on many others. Isaac has our unwavering respect and support.

Sheehan says she is happy Humphries came out, but she also knows he’ll get some pushback from those who once cheered for the seven-foot Australian.

“I expect there are going to be some people who are going to have negative feelings about that, but that is why this makes it so important that he is doing this, at this time, to show that he is proud about being a gay man,” Sheehan said.