Micheal Sam, in 2014, became the first openly gay player in football. While he was drafter to join St.Louis Rams of the National Football LeagueΒ (NFL). He didn’t make it to the final list. Similary, Ryan O’Callaghen is a former offensive lineman who retired from the league, in 2011. It was only in 2017, when the former player opened up about his sexuality saying that he was gay.
Last Thursday, NFL player Ryan Russell came out to the world as bisexual through a personal essay written on ESPN. This is big news since there are currently no openly LGBTQ football players in the league. And, Russell might just be the first openly bisexual player in the NFL.
Ryan Russell – NFL Free Agent:
Ryan Russell, is a 27-year old football player. He is a free-agent who plays as a defensive end. He has played with the Dallas Cowboys, The Buffalo Bills and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Russel could not participate through the entire 2018 season due to a shoulder injury he suffered in the previous year’s season. In 2017, he played for the Buccaneers. He was a starter for the team in 7 of the total 14 games he played.
He felt like he was holding something back
Russell took the decision to come out after the death of his college roommate and close friend, Joe Gilliam. He is currently the only male athlete to identify himself as openly LGBTQ across the four major professional sports leagues. These include the NFL, NBA, NHL and MLB.
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According to Russell, the past year was a transformative experience. He lost his dear friend, moved to Los Angeles, and started writing poetry. Poetry helped him become more vulnerable as well as open. And so, Russell opened up about his sexual orientation through a personal essay on ESPN. He said over the phone that,
βItβs so much better than hiding and holding it in and just kind of repressing myself.β
βI think the N.F.L. is definitely ready to accept an openly L.G.B.T.Q. player.β
-As reported by the New York Times
Sarah McBride,Β the national press secretary for Human Rights Campaign felt that Russell’s honesty is an encouragement for others. She said,Β βRyan Russell is creating more space and opportunity for young L.G.B.T.Q. people to dream big and to pursue their goalsβ, as written in the New York Times.
Snippets from his personal yet powerful essay
In his personal letter written on ESPN, Russell recollects his childhood. He wrote the columns, one side to represent straight while the other, gay. He then talks about his profession as a Footballer and his experiences as an adult.
“Though I confided in close friends and family and gave myself permission to date both men and women discreetly, I deprived myself the basic privilege of living an open life.”
He had to be “strategic and cautious” about meeting or getting involved with other men during seasons. Furthermore, this secret had a negative impact on the friendships he was building with his team. He was unable to be “authentic or honest” about himself or his life. He wrote,
“Being an NFL-quality teammate takes more than just excelling on the field. It comes with common trust built by knowing your teammate is physically and mentally fortified. You know the man next to you as well as you know yourself and you, in turn, trust him irrevocably. If you aren’t fully present and authentic in the training facility, you simply can’t be a standout teammate.”
There was a point in his career where a blogger almost outed his sexual orientation. The blogger deduced that the player was dating another man. However, Russell spoke to the blogger convincing him not to reveal his gay relationship. He then had a revelation, “In nobody’s worlds should being careful mean not being yourself. The career you choose shouldn’t dictate the parts of yourself that you embrace”.
The player noted that while there are openly LGBTQ people in different area’s such as entertainment and politics, it is almost invisible in pro sports. For a long time, the player felt ashamed about his sexual orientation. He constantly lived in fear about the repercussions his truth could have on his career, on professional sports possibly rejecting him for the way he was born.
Russell is very clear that coming out does not in any way mean that he wishes to retire from the league. The player who was released from the Buffalo bills last fall is still looking for a team. The player wrote, “Out of love, admiration, and respect, I want the next team to sign me valuing me for what I doΒ andΒ knowing who I truly am”.
Is Russell writing love poems to his boyfriend?
When Russell came out as a bi male footballer, he also introduced the world to his boyfriend. Corey O’Brien is based out of Los Angeles, and by profession, he is a dancer. The two recently launched their very own YouTube channel. Three days ago the player took to his Instagram to share a love poem, and it is clear he wrote this for.
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I need to write more when Iβm in love. I need to stop holding your hand on these long Malibu walksΒ And write more.Β I need to stop staring deeply into your eyes across the dinner tableΒ And write more. I need to stop watching you dance through the night And write more. I need to take a longer break between kisses,Β Pull out my journalΒ And write more.Β I need to stop thinking about how Iβm going to make you mine. And write more.Β I need to stop planning our future together And write more. I need to stop imagining you holding our son And write more.Β I need to stop smiling at the thought of us Old and gray, hand in hand,Β And write more. πR.K. Russell πΈ @corey_obrien
The poem just melts your heart. Doesn’t it? Russell has received overwhelming support after his ESPN letter. We only wish for a fruitful future and aΒ successfulΒ career for him. We hope to see Russell back on the field real soon.
What else is happening in the USA?Β Founder of one of the biggest βconversion therapyβ ministries now says its all a lie
Source Credit: Huffington Post, New York Times, Pride, Queerty