Russell wants to live his truth without being afraid.
In 2019, society has progressed enough to a point where the LGBTQ+ community is embraced by the majority of people. While there is still work to be done, the community doesn't face the same persecution that it used to. When it comes to professional sports though, this isn't exactly the case. Very few athletes have come out as gay and when they have, they typically don't get much work afterward. That's why it was surprising today when free-agent defensive end Ryan Russell penned an essay for ESPN where he comes out as bisexual.
“Have I lied to teammates, coaches, trainers, front-office executives and fans about who I am?” Russell asked. “Not exactly. But withholding information is a form of deceit. And I want the next part of my career – and life – steeped in trust and honesty. During the season you spend more time with your team than with your own family; truth and honesty are the cornerstones of a winning culture. 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. 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.”
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Russell is hoping to be a pioneer in his domain as there is practically no LGBTQ+ representation in professional sports. After having stints with the Dallas Cowboys and Tampa Bay Buccaneers, there is no guarantee Russell can find work, although he's hopeful it will be coming soon.
“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," Russell wrote. "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.”
His journey moving forward will be an interesting one as fans are rushing to Twitter with some divided opinions. Only time will tell whether or not a team will take him and allow him to continue his dream.