Kevin Maxen, assistant strength and conditioning coach with the NFL’s Jacksonville Jaguars since 2021, has publicly come out as gay with the goal of living his life openly with his boyfriend and hopes to inspire others to live their authentic lives as well.
“I don’t want to feel like I have to think about it anymore,” Maxen shared with Outsports in an exclusive interview. “I don’t want to feel like I have to lie about who I am seeing, or why I am living with someone else.
“I want to be vocal in support of people living how they want to live, but I also want to just live and not feel fear about how people will react.”
It’s worth noting that Maxen is a strength coach. For so long, some folks have viewed gay men as weak. But this is a guy to trains 300 pound linebackers to be strong.
According to Outsports, Maxen is the first openly gay male coach in any major American men’s pro sport. Prior to Maxen, there have been a couple of out female assistant coaches in the NFL including former San Francisco 49ers assistant coach Katie Sowers.
Outside linebacker Carl Nassib became the first active NFL player to come out as gay in 2021. Maxen says he reached out to Nassib, who currently plays for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, for his advice before making his announcement.
Before his gig with the Jaguars, Maxen flexed his strength coach skills with the football teams at Vanderbilt and Baylor. Attending Western Connecticut State University, he was a three season captain for the football team where he played as a linebacker.
Maxen tells Outsports that, while coming out has been a long journey, it was the support of his family and close friend over the past year that led to his coming out now.
“It wasn’t until recently – and with the immense love and support of my family, my friends, colleagues and peers, and the courage and sacrifice from my partner – that I realized I have the right and responsibility to love and be loved, and that maybe sharing this will hopefully give someone else the strength to accept their own life and take control of their own story.”
And yes, the 30-year-old has a boyfriend, Nick. The two have been dating for over 2 years.
But attending events and functions within the Jags organization, Maxen was aware of his own silence when others would share about their families and partners. He realized he no longer felt comfortable hiding his true self or his boyfriend.
“You have other coaches who have significant others, and they’re talking about their significant others. And I felt guilty that I couldn’t do the same thing, that I was letting myself down. I want the person I’m with to be able to share that with me.”
“For a while I had such an anger for myself and hatred that I thought was from a fear of what others might think about who I am. But that wasn’t it. It was an anger and hatred of myself because I put myself in a life where I was living by other people’s rules and not by my own. And I was right to be angry at myself for thinking that I had to live in the image of anyone else.”
As for how his team will react, Maxen is confident his work ethic and personality will win the day.
“I have a pretty good sense of humor,” said Maxen. “So a lot of the guys I can joke with and not take anything personally.”
Jaguars owner Shad Kahn had only praise for Maxen in a statement to ESPN:
“Kevin is a Jacksonville Jaguar through and through, and a key member of our football team and community. I look forward to seeing Kevin next week at training camp, and hope that he comes to work each day during camp and through the season feeling confident, free and at peace. I know our players and staff feel the same.”
Congratulations to Kevin for stepping up and out, and living your authentic self.
Good for him. An especially brave choice considering Kevin Maxen is in Florida where Don’t Say Gay is the law of the land.
“I want to be vocal in support of people living how they want to live, but I also want to just live and not feel fear about how people will react.” pic.twitter.com/VRThlTQXDC
— Christopher Webb (@cwebbonline) July 21, 2023
Jaguars’ assistant strength and conditioning coach Kevin Maxen has become the first male coach in major American men's professional sports to publicly come out as gay, telling @outsports he didn't want to hide who he is any longer and to inspire others.https://t.co/wfRyIa6afq
— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) July 21, 2023