Perkins, a starting defensive back for the Hampton Pirates, came out this week on his Instagram story where he wrote “I’ve decided that I’m going to make a change, and stop running away from myself. I’m gay, 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. Simply put, I am who I am.”
In an interview with Outsports.com, an LGBTQ sports news site, he shared that his coaches have been supportive and the reception from his team has been “very good,” but also a bit mixed.
Perkins says living authentically has helped him to feel 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.”
In his coming-out Instagram post, Perkins wrote that he “will no longer be living a lie.”
“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.”– Byron Perkins via Instagram
He continued on to thank his family and friends who have supported him as well as those he may lose, expressing that they all have helped him to grow into the young man he is today.
Perkins told Outsports that he hopes that living his truth will inspire other Black gay men to feel comfortable to be open about who they are.
“Especially at an HBCU, young Black gay men need an outlet, they need a support system,” Perkins said.
“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” Perkins added.