I didn't set out to be the first openly gay athlete playing in a major American team sport. But since I am, I'm happy to start the conversation. I wish I wasn't the kid in the classroom raising his hand and saying, "I'm different." If I had my way, someone else would have already done this. Nobody has, which is why I'm raising my hand.
As the clock wound down during the final rounds of the NFL draft on Saturday, only two kickers were chosen — and 23-year-old openly gay former Middle Tennessee State placekicker Alan Gendreau was not one of them.
Alan Gendreau would seem an unlikely pioneer. He is a former kicker for Middle Tennessee State, the leading scorer in Sun Belt Conference history, a little-known 23-year-old who wants a shot at the N.F.L. And he is gay.
It had been months since Alan Gendreau put on a pair of cleats and stood three yards behind a football. The former Middle Tennessee State placekicker had all but left the game behind when he graduated a year ago.