Kicker for Willamette announces he's bisexual

Published on NewsOK Modified: January 28, 2014 at 10:48 pm •  Published: January 28, 2014
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SALEM, Ore. (AP) — Conner Mertens didn't want to pretend anymore — especially with his teammates.

So the redshirt freshman kicker at Division III Willamette announced Tuesday that he's bisexual.

"It got to a point where I just got tired of it, trying to hide who I was and trying to pretend I was something I was not," he said.

Mertens, 19, announced his sexual orientation to his teammates during a meeting on Monday. A story about him appeared on Outsports.com on Tuesday.

Speaking on campus later in the afternoon, Mertens said he hopes his announcement helps dispel the stereotypes and stigmas associated with bisexual athletes — and in turn let other LGBT athletes know they are not alone.

"You can be real and you can be yourself," Mertens said. "That only starts when you can love yourself and let others love you. That's kind of where I was going with this."

Bearcats coach Glen Fowles said the players were overwhelmingly supportive of his decision.

"It's been great to see the way our guys have rallied around," Fowles said. "For our guys, Conner is just a kicker."

Team captain and junior inside linebacker Jack Nelson said: "It wasn't a big deal and we were glad he felt comfortable to tell us."

While several LGBT athletes have come out, including former NBA player Jason Collins, WNBA star Brittney Griner and Major League Soccer player Robbie Rogers, it's believed that Mertens is the first active college football player at any level to publicly announce his bisexuality.



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