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49ers assistant becomes first openly LGBTQ coach in NFL

Vincent Frank
Tom Gamble, 49ers helmet, Donavin Newsome

The San Francisco 49ers hired former Atlanta Falcons intern Katie Sowers as a full-time assistant coach earlier this offseason. It was an historical hire, as Sowers became just the second full-time female assistant in NFL history (more on that here).

Now, Sowers is making even more history.

Sowers opened up to SB Nation’s Out Sports on Tuesday to become the first outwardly LGBTQ assistant, male or female, in league history.

“My orientation first came up with Scott Pioli who is the assistant GM for the Atlanta falcons prior to my internship,” she said. “At first, I was nervous to tell him as many are in new environments, but it came up in an everyday conversation about my family and life back home in Kansas City,” Sowers said. “could not have asked for a more open-minded and accepting group of people to work with. I never once felt judged and I was treated just like anyone would want to be treated: as a typical person working to build a career.”

To be just the second full-time female coach is what we’d call shattering the glass ceiling. And while we’re not too sure what the capacity will be this season, Sowers definitely opened some eyes with this most-recent news.

She also made sure people knew that others within the league are afraid to come out and declare themselves part of the LGBTQ community.

“No matter what you do in life, one of the most important things is to be true to who you are,” Sowers said. “There are so many people who identify as LGBT in the NFL, as in any business, that do not feel comfortable being public about their sexual orientation. The more we can create an environment that welcomes all types of people, no matter their race, gender, sexual orientation, religion, the more we can help ease the pain and burden that many carry every day.”

Good for Sowers. Obviously, she’s not afraid of what has been a machismo culture within the NFL. Maybe this will help others open up about their own sexuality moving forward.