Former New England Patriots Player Ryan O’Callaghan Comes Out As Gay

Former New England Patriots and Kansas City Chiefs offensive tackle Ryan O'Callaghan has come out as gay in a new interview.

Talking with Outsports, the 33-year-old retired NFL pro publically revealed his struggle with his sexuality his entire life. He said football was one of the earliest ways he found to hide his sexuality.

"No one is going to assume the big football player is gay," O'Callaghan said. "It's why a football team is such a good place to hide.

He added, "In high school, football turned into a way to go to college. In college, football was a great cover for being gay. And then I saw the NFL mainly as a way to keep hiding my sexuality and stay alive."

In the feature, O'Callaghan said while playing football helped hide his sexuality, it was also somewhat alienating. He discusses the times he had to pretend to be interested in women to fool his team mates, and he would often just avoid conversations concerning women sexually.

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"There is so much talk about women in the locker room, even in the NFL," he said. "I'd just turn around and ignore it. I figured I couldn't even talk about it well, like they would see through me if I did."

O'Callaghan, who was drafted by the Patriots in the fifth round of the 2006 draft, also divulged he was pushed to brink of suicide due to his repressed lifestyle. He believed his friends and family would be outraged and outcast him, which he thought wasn't worth living through.

"If you're a gay kid and you hear someone you love say 'fag,' it makes you think that in their eyes you're just a fag too," he said. "That got to me a lot."

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Luckily, the Kansas City Chiefs staff stepped in as O'Callaghan showed signs of spiralling. They aided him in the decision to come out as gay privately, which has emotionally freed him.

"It's not always easy being honest, but I can tell you it's much easier and more enjoyable being yourself and not living a lie," he said.

Now retired due to injury, he wants to help others in the LGBTQ community going through similar struggles.

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"As long as there are people killing themselves because they are gay, there is a reason for people like me to share my story and try to help," he said. "People need to understand that we are everywhere. We're your sons, your daughters, your teammates, your neighbors. And honestly, even some of your husbands and wives. You just don't know it yet.