Derrick Gordon, who made history by coming out as gay while playing Division 1 men’s basketball, says an opponent called him a “faggot” during a professional game Thursday.
In September, Gordon signed a contract to play for Apollon Limassol B.C. in Cyprus. “This is the happiest I’ve been since coming out publicly,” Gordon told Outsports at the time. “This is an absolute dream come true for me.”
Late Thursday afternoon, Gordon celebrated his team’s win over ETHA Engomis, 73-72 in overtime, and also shared the enraging news.
“Great team win today but being called Faggot during the game by one of the other players on the team is a disgrace and shouldn’t be allowed in pro sports,” he wrote. “I will always stand up for my community no matter what.”
Gordon told Outsports the incident occurred in the second half of the game. He was exchanging verbal barbs with Eden Ewing, a center for ETHA Engomis. After some back-and-forth, Gordon says Ewing called him a “faggot” multiple times.
Gordon says a teammate stood up for him immediately. “This isn’t going to hurt me or bring me down,” he said.
Great team win today but being called Faggot during the game by one of the other players on the team is a disgrace and shouldn’t be allowed in pro sports. I will always stand up for my community no matter what ️ pic.twitter.com/SVaJEbUH9r
— Derrick Gordon (@flash2gordon) December 10, 2020
Gordon is the second openly gay male pro athlete in three months to accuse an opponent of calling him a gay slur. In October, pro soccer player Collin Martin said an opponent hurled a homophobic insult at him in Jamaican, prompting his team, the San Diego Loyal, to forfeit the game.
Over the summer, sports broadcaster Thom Brennaman dropped the word “fag” on a hot mic during a Cincinnati Reds telecast. He resigned from his longtime position, and will call games in Puerto Rico this season.
Gordon was part of a wave of elite male athletes in football and basketball who came out as gay in 2013-14. Gordon shared his coming-out story with Outsports in 2014, while playing for the University of Massachusetts Minutemen. He transferred to Seton Hall for his senior season, and made more history, becoming the first player to play in March Madness for three different teams (Seton Hall, UMass and Western Kentucky).
After his college career ended, Gordon was invited to participate in the NBA Combine, but never received a workout with an NBA team. His new chapter in Cyprus is the culmination of a four-year journey to play professional basketball.
Throughout the fall, Gordon has shared updates on social media chronicling his time on the small Mediterranean island, including multiple celebratory shots with his teammates.
As our Cyd Zeigler writes, the openly gay Gordon playing basketball in Cyprus sends a strong statement. Cyprus is heavily Orthodox Christian, and Gordon settling there reinforces the notion you can be openly gay and play pro sports.
Judging by his Instagram page, it seems as if Gordon has enjoyed his time overseas. Hopefully this episode is just a blip.