"We just felt the time was right," said team owner Clark Hunt. "American society has thankfully become more open to gays, but there is still pushback in sports. It is our hope that this announcement can open dialogue in sports and encourage other teams and players to come forward."
The franchise says it has known they are gay for years.
"Back in the mid-60s or so we when we were only a few years old we started having conflicting feelings about the Raiders," said former quarterback Len Dawson. "But I'm not sure we really even knew what gay was back then. And if we did, it wouldn't have been accepted in a state like Missouri."
The Chiefs say they hope their admission dispels some gay stereotypes.
"Everyone knew that this would happen in the sports world one day that someone would come forward," says running back Jamaal Charles. "But I think people thought that if a team would do it, it would be some soccer team from the coasts. But we're an NFL team, we're tough, we're macho, we're from the Midwest and we are very, and proudly, gay."
With a major professional sports team now out, it is likely other teams will come forward.
"We all know of other gay teams," says punter Dustin Colquitt. "It has always been a sort of secret community. But, like us, they felt pressured to conceal who they really are. I hope we can encourage them to step forward."
"We've struggled on the field for a long time," says Hunt. "But I think now that we are honest and public about who we are, it will really translate onto the field. I am expecting big things for this team. I would love to be the first gay team to win a championship well, at least the first openly gay team to win a championship," he added, perhaps hinting at the longtime rumors that the New York Yankees are gay.
The Montreal Expos came out after their franchise ended, but the Chiefs are the first active team to do so.