Air Force defensive back Bradley Kim became a trailblazer for service academy athletics on Friday.
And it had nothing to do with football. Through Instagram, in person to teammates and in an article in OutSports, the sophomore announced that he is gay.
“I did not think this day would ever come, but I’ve finally reached the point where I am comfortable and confident enough with myself to say that I am gay,” Kim said on social media.
While an increasing number of athletes have felt comfortable similarly going public with their sexuality, it is a rarity among football players and it had yet to happen for an active player at Air Force, Army or Navy.
It was seven years ago that “don’t ask, don’t tell” was repealed and gays, bisexuals, and lesbians were allowed to openly serve in the military.
Citing the football team’s media policy, Kim declined an interview request from The Gazette.
“I hope that I can serve as an example to those who are allowing their fear of acceptance to change who they are,” Kim wrote on Instagram. “I almost gave up my dream of playing division 1 football for fear of not being accepted by everyone, but today I am happy to say that I am a cadet at the Air Force Academy playing the sport I love with amazing people standing behind me and supporting me.
“If anyone feels like they don’t have a voice or feel like they are alone, just know there are plenty of people out there like you and me, and more that are willing to talk to you about it. God bless all and thank you to everyone who has made me feel comfortable to live my most genuine life.”
The article from OutSports said the sophomore received a standing ovation from fellow defensive backs Friday morning when he told them. Support for Kim has poured in from teammates on social media.
“I can’t imagine the amount of courage it took for him to open up about this,” teammate Demani Hansford said.
“Love you bro! Always be yourself!” added Tre Bugg.
“Love you brother, so damn proud of you!” James Jones IV said.
Air Force public affairs responded to The Gazette with the following statement: “The academy strives to foster a culture where everyone gives and receives dignity and respect so that each individual has the opportunity to fulfill their potential.”
In his social media announcement, the Seattle native referenced Jeremiah 29:11, adding “God made me this way for a reason.”
“I’ve spent too many years worrying what other people will think and letting it affect what I do in my daily life,” said Kim — whose brother, Mitchell, played soccer and graduated from the Air Force Academy — to OutSports. “And I’m kind of done with that. It doesn’t affect my ability to play football. It doesn’t affect my ability to serve my country. No one cares here. We all go through the same thing, we all go through basic training. What we go through going through the academy goes way deeper than worrying about what someone will think.”