In some parts of the world and even in the United States, sexuality, lesbian, gay, bi, and the likes are uncomfortable topics because they are immoral and abominable. But people are learning to accept such people just as they are. That’s why they have come out with special days to celebrate these people. Bi visibility day is one of them. On this day, Russell, who is the only active male athlete in the major American professional sports league to have come out as bisexual, talks about his experience.
In an interview with Sky Sports, Russell opens up about the journey since he came out as bisexual, talks about mental health protection, dives a little into racial injustice, among other things
28-year-old former Dallas Cowboys and Tampa Bay Buccaneers defensive end, in an interview with Sky Sports’ Jon Holmes, discusses many important issues about LGBTQ+, equality, and football
Not a lot of athletes can come out because of fear of discrimination or losing their career, so for someone like Russell to be able to come out as bisexual is brave, and people are curious as to how the journey has been for him since he made the big announcement. He had announced this through an essay.
For Russell, the journey has been relatively easy. He said things just got better after he came out. He didn’t have to walk about thinking people were discriminating against him, and he said his relationships got enriched and deeper. His mental health is no more in shackles. He believes that a deteriorating mental health due to insecurity and self-consciousness does not help an athlete be on top of his game. Russell is also very proud of himself that he has touched lives.
“I think the greatest highpoint after coming out has been the lives of the people that I’ve touched, such as for young queer athletes who are contemplating whether sports is for them, and who are maybe not seeing themselves on that professional level, now they can see me, someone, who’s not only pursuing a professional career but as had success professionally.” He said.
Russell is currently a free agent. Will he go back into the NFL? What does he hear from teams? He is enthusiastic and hopeful. After suffering a shoulder injury in 2018 and losing his best friend to cancer, he says he has healed, and one thing that helped him was he coming out as bisexual. He found happiness outside what he did for a career; he has taken care of himself and wants to bounce back. He is very hopeful that “this season will be my season!”
“Just make sure that in the same way you have a game plan for the week, you have a mental wellness plan also in place.” – Russell
He stresses on mental wellbeing. Says it is essential for fair play. Russell suggests that the conversations about mental health in locker rooms should be encouraged. Players should be allowed to talk about what is bothering them both on and off the field. He also urges players to make time for themselves and their health. “It’s not just on the field, but off the field too. That’s the vicious cycle. If you’re feeling bad, you play bad, and then you feel bad about how you played, and it just goes on and on.”
The advice Russell has for athletes who are contemplating coming out but are scared is that it is ‘ok’ to be scared. It is normal to be worried about the reaction of your family, friends, and worry about your career, but he wants them to know that happiness and joy and the success they are looking for is at the end of coming out. Russell said unlike Ryan O’Callaghan, who had come out last year and said he wasn’t a big NFL fan, Russell said he has such a big love for football and has never used it as a cover
On the issue of racial injustice, Russell wants the NFL to do more, be inclusive, and encourage players to protest like how the NBA and WNBA do. He believes in equality and strongly raises his fist against police brutality and racism.
He admires Khalil Mack, describes him as a fantastic player. Ryan Kerrigan is also one of his favorites and loves the Rams, and he is currently impressed with their offense and defense.