AceShowbiz - Professional football player Ryan Russell, who is currently a free agent, has come out as bisexual. In an ESPN.com article published on Thursday, August 29, the 27-year-old opens up about who he really is and his goals by publicly addressing his sexuality.
Sharing his regret for not being his "full self " during job interviews, he says, "Out of love, admiration and respect, I want the next team to sign me valuing me for what I do and knowing who I truly am." The defensive end claims he did "not exactly" lie to "teammates, coaches, trainers, front-office executives and fans about who I am," but he realizes that "withholding information is a form of deceit."
"My truth is that I'm a talented football player, a damn good writer, a loving son, an overbearing brother, a caring friend, a loyal lover, and a bisexual man," so he proudly declares. "Today, I have two goals: returning to the NFL, and living my life openly. I want to live my dream of playing the game I've worked my whole life to play, and being open about the person I've always been."
Ryan then shares his hope to change the culture in sports leagues to be more acceptable of openly LGBTQ players. "Those two objectives shouldn't be in conflict. But judging from the fact that there isn't a single openly LGBTQ player in the NFL, NBA, Major League Baseball or the NHL, brings me pause," he remarks. "I want to change that -- for me, for other athletes who share these common goals, and for the generations of LGBTQ athletes who will come next."
The Texas native, who was recruited by Dallas Cowboys in 2015, also talks about how he identified himself as a child. "Growing up, I always felt as though my existence slipped between the cracks of two worlds. I wasn't flamboyant, tidy, or any other stereotypes kids are forced to construct their world around. I wasn't straight, hyper-masculine or aggressive; I cried quite a bit, and, as a young black man, I didn't fit the bill," he explains. "I played football -- so I put that in the straight column. I wrote poetry and romance stories -- so I put that in the gay column."
As an adult, Ryan says that he faced "an intense challenge" that made him "compromise my personal world ... and my personal happiness" when he began pursuing a career in the NFL. He shares, "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. That meant I had to be strategic and cautious about meeting guys or getting involved with them during the regular season."
Once, when a blogger caught hints of his relationship with a man, he felt like "my professional world and personal world were colliding with me caught in the cataclysm." He recalled his reaction at the time, "I panicked, then wrote back, reminding him that there were implications about his actions he didn't fully understand. If the blogger outed me, I was sure that would kill my career, one that was supporting not just me, but my mother and grandfather. He'd eradicate a childhood dream that was the product of years of work and sacrifice."
After hearing him out, the blogger told him "that he would grant me this favor, but that I should be more careful." Ryan adds, "Nobody should need a favor to live honestly. 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."
No longer ashamed of himself, Ryan has taken to Instagram to introduce his boyfriend, professional dancer Corey O'Brien, along with a poem which reads, "Love is faithful/ Love is kind/ It doesn't brag or boast/ But when I tell the world/ You're mine/ I tend to brag the most."
Corey also gushes about Ryan on his own account. Sharing a colorful version of the same photo, he writes in the caption, "This man is the top headline on @espn this morning for speaking his truth as a player in the NFL and as my boyfriend. I couldn't be more proud."