David Kopay

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David Kopay
No. 43, 40
Position:Running back
Personal information
Born: (1942-06-28) June 28, 1942 (age 78)
Chicago, Illinois
Height:6 ft 0 in (1.83 m)
Weight:218 lb (99 kg)
Career information
High school:Notre Dame
(Sherman Oaks, California)
Career history
Career NFL statistics
Rushing Yards:876
Player stats at NFL.com · PFR

David Marquette Kopay (born June 28, 1942) is a former American football running back in the National Football League who in 1975 became one of the first professional athletes to come out as gay.[1]


Kopay attended Notre Dame High School in Sherman Oaks, California. He entered the University of Washington in 1961. He was on the West roster as a halfback at the All-America East vs. West Football Game in 1964.[2] Kopay was signed by the San Francisco 49ers, and played professional football from 1964 to 1972. After he retired from the NFL, he was considered a top contender for coaching positions, but he believes he was snubbed by professional and college teams because of his sexual orientation.[3] Kopay went to work as a salesman/purchaser in his uncle's floorcovering business in Hollywood. He is also a board member of the Gay and Lesbian Athletics Foundation.

Kopay's 1977 biography, The David Kopay Story, written with Perry Deane Young, became a best-seller.[4] In 1986, Kopay, without naming him, revealed his brief affair with Jerry Smith, a football player who played for the Washington Redskins from 1965–1977 and who died of AIDS without ever having publicly come out of the closet.[5]

Social impact[edit]

Since Kopay, only five additional former NFL Players have come out as gay, Roy Simmons in 1992, Esera Tuaolo in 2002, Wade Davis in 2012, Kwame Harris in 2013 and Ryan O'Callaghan in 2017. Kopay has been credited with inspiring these athletes to be more open about their sexual orientation. In May 1977, Kopay was on the cover of GPU (Gay People’s Union) News of Milwaukee.

Kopay appears as himself in a small but pivotal role in the film Tru Loved (2008). His scene features young actor Matthew Thompson and Alexandra Paul.

Kopay became a Gay Games Ambassador for the Federation of Gay Games. He went to Gay Games VII in Chicago in July 2006 and was a featured announcer in the opening ceremonies.

Kopay announced in September 2007 that he will leave $1 million as an endowment to the University of Washington Q Center.[6]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "David Kopay". IMDb. Retrieved June 15, 2018.
  2. ^ "Game Program". All-America Football Game Program. 4th Annual: 16. June 27, 1964.
  3. ^ Adkins, Jeremie (August 20, 2013). "Op-ed: What Happened When I Met Dave Kopay". The Advocate. Retrieved August 29, 2013. [Kopay] wrote a book about coming out and he got blacklisted by everyone and couldn't get work in the industry anymore and it was kinda sad, but he went on to work for his family flooring business. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  4. ^ LeVay, Simon; Elisabeth Nonas (1995). City of Friends: A Portrait of the Gay and Lesbian Community in America. Cambridge, Massachusetts: The MIT Press. p. 66. ISBN 978-0-2621-2194-1.
  5. ^ "He Was One of Us". Sports Illustrated. January 11, 2016. Retrieved May 21, 2020. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  6. ^ Naito, Jon (December 2008). "Homecoming". Columns Magazine.
  • Kopay, David (1977). The David Kopay Story: An Extraordinary Self-Revelation. Arbor House Pub Co. pp. 247 pages. ISBN 0-87795-145-4.