Those two words became the rallying cry against locker room-centric homophobia, starting with a surge in professional athletes and sports figures coming out with their sexual orientation in 2013.
The first significant player was NBA veteran Jason Collins, who came out in April of 2013. A few months later, college linebacker Michael Sam came out to his Missouri teammates, and became the first openly gay pro football player on a roster when the St. Louis Rams drafted him in 2014. In 2016, WNBA star Brittney Griner publicly came out as lesbian in a profile with USA TODAY Sports.
The number of athletes coming out increased during the second term of President Barack Obama, and as same-sex marriage was legalized by the Supreme Court in June of 2015. Milwaukee Brewers minor leaguer David Denson came out as gay that August. In October, Bryant University men’s basketball assistant Chris Burns became the first Division I men’s coach in college basketball to come out publicly in a profile with USA TODAY Sports, drawing the praise of Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski.