Saying that he wanted to be his authentic self, Hampton defensive back Bryron Perkins became the first HBCU player to come out as gay.
“I’ve decided that I’m going to make change, and stop running away from myself. I’m gay,” Perkins wrote in an Instagram post. “Let it be known that this is not a ‘decision’ or a ‘choice.’ Yes, this is who I am, this is who I’ve been, and this is who I’m going to be.”
In an interview with Outsports, Perkins indicated that making the announcement made him more complete.
“I’ve been self-reflective and trying to prioritize what makes me happy and makes me feel alive,” Perkins told Outsports. “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.”
Before joining Hampton, Perkins played for Purdue before transferring in 2020.
“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,” Perkins wrote. “No one should have to live a life crippled by what society thinks. I have been told on many occasions that I walk around and look as if I’m upset. This is not because I am an angry person, but because I have put on a mask, a mask that has restricted me. Today, I am destroying that mask.”
Perkins explained that the reaction to him coming out has been “very good,” among teammates and coaches.
“Especially at an HBCU, young Black gay men need an outlet,” Perkins 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. It’s about that kid who’s going to see this and think he can be himself too.”