Former NFL player Ryan O’Callaghan spent years in the closet — now he’s encouraging other LGBTQ+ athletes to follow their dreams no matter what.
“I think any young athletes out there just needs to continue to follow your dreams, and, you know, unapologetically just continue to be yourself, and, you know, even if you’re uncomfortable, know that the world will catch up,” he stated. “I just say keep following your dream and don’t let, especially your sexuality, you know, be an excuse for not making it.”
O’Callaghan struggled with his identity for years and turned to football as a way to hide his sexuality. He stayed in the closet for years, including during his six seasons in the NFL, because he was worried his family wouldn’t accept him.
“My family’s known for a good four or five now, I came out publicly last year, but ever since I came out, they’ve been very supportive,” he explained. “I mean, it’s always great to know that your family loves you. I mean, the whole reason I was so deep in the closet is that I thought they never would.”
He is also starting the Ryan O’Callaghan Foundation to give scholarships to LGBTQ+ athletes.