Poker Pro Jason Somerville: ‘I’m Gay!’

Written by:
Thomas Somach
Published on:
Poker Pro Jason Somerville:  ‘I’m Gay!’

Jason Somerville has become the first high-profile professional male poker player to admit he is gay.

Writing this week in his blog at, Somerville, 24, of Stony Brook, New York, USA, states: "I always knew I wasn't straight, but I never spoke a word of it...And here we are now, writing this post...Open in my personal life, in an amazing relationship that means a great deal to me, and bottom line, I’m honestly happier now than I’ve ever been."

High-profile celebrities from many walks of life--acting, singing, sports, literature, even TV news--have previously come out as homosexuals.

But never before has anyone from the macho world of professional poker had the courage to admit he's gay.

Somerville, however, doesn't seem to be afraid of any backlash.

The fact that he's won, according to official tournament records, more than $1.7 million in his career playing live tournament poker, means any lost endorsements because of his gayness won't affect his life much, if at all.

Here, in fuller context, is what Somerville blogged on Tuesday, which just so happened to be St. Valentine's Day: "I’m a poker player. Above anything else that I could identify as, no single label could better describe my life, my personality, my outlook, my desires. In no community do I feel more at home...

"Of all the diversity and variety that the poker world contains, though, there is a noticeable lack of openly gay poker professionals...No man who is a well-known pro in poker is open about it. I’m not quite sure why exactly that is, and of course everyone is entitled to be as open as they want to be about their personal lives, but for there to be zero high-profile openly not-straight men in poker seems bad, archaic, reflective of a community that isn’t open to all, when we actually are one of the most open communities in existence...

"I’ve struggled with how to discuss this, with how to balance my desire for privacy with the fact that I do want to be myself publicly and the fact that I think it’s overdue for a guy to be open about it in poker. I’m no Daniel Negreanu, the royalty of real talk, but I do pride myself on saying what I think and simply being who I am, but I suppose you could say in the past being truly myself has come with a bit of an asterisk. Privately, amongst friends, I can say I’ve been doing that for some amount of time, but publicly, and in poker, that hasn’t completely been the case. I haven’t exactly always been where I am now, though, and haven’t really been ready to share my story publicly. Privacy reasons excepted, that won’t be the case any more...

"I had put it off for a long time. I always knew I wasn’t straight, but I never spoke a word of it for 22 years, and nobody really ever knew otherwise. I dated women exclusively through my teens and early 20s, doing my best to convince myself that it wasn’t something I had to pursue, that maybe I’d grow out of it, that I’d be happier with women anyway, that I just should focus on other things. After a lot of struggling and a lot of anxiety, I eventually came out to one of my close friends when I was 22. That same year, the second and third people I came out to were my parents, probably the hardest thing I’ve ever done, from which I basically received the not-exactly-what-I-needed reaction of 'keep it to yourself, don’t tell anyone.' I told very few people from then until I was 24...

"I told myself to be afraid of the poker world finding out somehow and outing me and having some disaster roll out because of it. I was worried that no matter what I ever accomplished or did, I’d be labeled 'that gay poker player' above all else, and it would be a title of shame. I feared that I’d lose friendships that meant a lot to me, that I’d ring a bell that could never be unrung and I’d be miserable, somehow. It took me a long time to mostly get over all those somewhat irrational anxieties and to truly start being myself, regardless of what that might mean or look like to others.

"As 2011 continued on, and my mindset became more focused on being happy, I pushed myself to make the changes I wanted. I started being more and more open, telling more and more people, and eventually started dating. I became more empowered by the growing personal freedoms I felt as I increasingly was just myself by default...and here we are now, writing this post. I’m totally open in my personal life, in an amazing relationship that means a great deal to me, and bottom line, I’m honestly happier now than I’ve ever been. I’m not planning on being much different. If you’ve interacted with me before, you pretty much know who I am, and there probably won’t be many differences in the future. Like I said, I’m just a poker player, after all, and being attracted to guys doesn’t change that..."

By Tom Somach Staff Writer