Open game of Ryan Russell – KeYou
Despite the support shown by NFL, openly LGBTQ players are still absent in all four American leagues or prefer to go stealth. Less than 10 NFL players decided to come out when retired. The situation is however, about to change. As we reported previously, one of the veterans of NFL, Ryan O’Callaghan believes each NFL team has at least one closeted LGBTQ player. The breakthrough has been recently made by Ryan Russell, the defensive end who came out as a bisexual. He previously played for Dallas Cowboys and Tampa Bay Buccaneers and is currently awaiting for a new contract. “The NFL is looking for an opportunity to support LGBT athletes. There’s a kind of stigma that the NFL is conservative or however you might put it, but I believe it’s an issue of visibility and opportunity. This is a moment to show everyone what the NFL is made of,” he said.
Even though the response to coming out was overwhelmingly positive, the job was hard. Ryan started from opening up to his family and after receiving their full support decided to let his teammates to know about his sexuality one-by-one. Ryan has also an advice from O’Callaghan who encouraged Russell to finally make a public announcement. Some of the tweets have, however, attempted to diminish Ryan’s brave move. The users claimed that the player should focus on game rather than his sexuality. Those comments clearly demonstrate how deep misunderstanding of LGBTQ issues is. That is, the closeted has no way to be himself/ herself/themselves. The latter, in turn can directly affect their skills that can be undermined by a psychological trauma caused by going stealth.
How difficult coming out is can been seen from Jason Collins example. He was the first NBA player to come out in 2013. “It takes an enormous amount of energy to guard such a big secret. I’ve endured years of misery and gone to enormous lengths to live a lie. I was certain that my world would fall apart if anyone knew. And yet when I acknowledged my sexuality I felt whole for the first time,” he remembered. Thus, the supportive efforts of NFL who established NFL Pride and helped LGBTQ Parade in New York this year are of the utmost importance. Luckily, the situation is much easier for female athletes where a bunch of them are openly gay including WNBA players Brittney Griner, Elena Delle Donne, Diana Taurasi and a World Cup hero Megan Rapinoe.