My-King Johnson is set to make history as the first openly gay scholarship athlete in major college football next season.
Johnson discussed his sexuality with the Arizona Daily Star and said he told those around him he was gay when he was 12, and Arizona knew about it when recruiting him.
“I’m a very honest person,” said the University of Arizona recruit. “I just don’t see how I could be living an honest, truthful life and have that in the background.
“I do feel like when I say that, it can put a target on my back,” Johnson said about being open about his sexuality.
Vince Amey, who leads Arizona’s defensive line and was the top recruiter for Johnson, was aware long before the letter of intent was signed. The coach’s reaction was part of the reason why the player elected to play for the Wildcats.
“When I found out, I really couldn’t sleep,” Amey said. “And it wasn’t like I was uncomfortable with it. I was just like, all right, it’s different, it’s new. … I said, ‘Look, you are who you are, I am who I am, and I’m going to coach you the same way. I’m going to treat you the same way. I’m going to get on you the same way as everybody else. There’s no difference. You do what you do.’ I said, ‘When the players find out, especially my room, I’m going to tell (those) dudes: ‘Look, you gotta have his back.’”
Johnson’s coaches and friends have been quick to praise the teen, admiring his openness and honesty in the light of carrying the label of a gay black male football player.