ST. LOUIS — Jake Bain is now playing Division I football at Indiana State University, one year after the star athlete came out as gay during a speech to fellow St. Louis high school students that went viral in early 2018.
Ellen DeGeneres invited Bain to her daily talk show for an update on his experience of coming out to his classmates at John Bourroughs School while being a star athlete.
“I admire you. I’m proud of you. I know how hard it is for anyone to come out. Especially a football player in a small town,” said Ellen DeGeneres. “You looked very nervous during your speech. How long have you been thinking about it?”
“Three or four years. I was really nervous at first. We had just won the state championship my sophomore year of football. I was at an all-time high at that point. I was getting so much attention for athletics. At the same time, I was questioning my sexuality. My school was super supportive, but I knew it could be different once I came out in public. But, I was definitely embraced and loved by everybody,” said Jake Bain.
The Westboro Baptist Church came from Topeka to protest at his school in St. Louis soon after he publicly came out. Supporters held signs and rainbow flags and played music to drown out the negative messages coming from the Westboro protesters.
There are not too many openly gay football players, and Bain was worried what it would be like in college. However, he says his coaches and teammates at Indiana State University have welcomed and accepted him.
Bain’s boyfriend of two years, Hunter, was in the studio audience. Hunter goes to UNC and they’re separated by a 10-hour drive.
Ellen gave Hunter a free vacation to Fiji so the two could spend some time together, since Bain isn’t allowed to accept gifts as a college athlete.