In 2019, someone’s sexuality shouldn’t be a big deal. But in organizations like the NFL that are steeped in masculinity, adrenaline and testosterone – being a member of the LGBTQ community is still very rare and often never made public.
But this year, just before the season kicked off, NFL free agent Ryan Russell came public with his sexuality as being bisexual. He joins recent professional athletes such as Michael Sam and Jason Collins who also came out publicly.
"I rationalized my fear because it was easy to convince myself that hiding who I was made the most sense. The competition is so stiff to stay in the league, that any small mark can lead a front office to choose another guy for your job," Russell told ESPN's Kevin Arnovitz.
After sitting out the 2018 season due to an injury, Russell said he wants to live honestly and that means being honest with his teammates.
"Today, I have two goals: returning to the NFL, and living my life openly," he said. "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. I want to change that." August 30 - CNN
It’s a great step, but what will this mean for Russell’s career? Will fans, teammates and the league be able to accept this news? And should professional sports leagues and teams have a better process for how they accept sexual diversity?
There are a lot of questions to be asked, and that’s where our experts can help.
Dr. Angela Jones is an author, and teaches and conducts research in subjects such as African-American history, gender, and the gay community. Dr. Jones is available to speak with media regarding this topic - simply click on her icon to arrange an interview.
Angela Jones Associate Professor, Sociology
Dr. Jones is an author, and teaches and conducts research in subjects such as African-American history, gender, and the gay community.