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Former NFL Player Wade Davis Talks About Getting Past Homophobia in Sports

Heather McClain

Sewickley Academy is hosting an event titled "NFL to LGBTQ" featuring former NFL player Wade Davis. 

As a defensive back for the Tennessee Titans, Washington Redskins, and Seattle Seahawks as well as NFL Europe, Davis was constantly challenged physically and mentally. 

He said he grew up with limited understandings of what it meant to be gay and was constantly on his guard.

“The amount of emotional and mental strain it puts on you to live in a space of double consciousness, where you’re one way when no one’s around, and then when everyone else is around you become a different person. Where you become a fantastic liar, where you mimic and copy everything that a straight guy does, that you think will make everyone else believe that ‘I’m something that I’m not.’ From wearing over-sized clothing, to being a misogynist, to doing everything that I thought that a man did, in order to prove to everyone else that I was heterosexual,” Davis explained that he constantly felt like he was performing, until his retirement from the NFL. 

Once his NFL career ended, Davis came out and he is now the executive director of the You Can Play project, which encourages equality for all athletes regardless of sexual orientation.  

Today, he promotes two key messages for both athletes and coaches.

“Find people in your lives you can live openly and honestly to, find that support system, find that family,” said Davis “And then the message for coaches, or administrators, or anyone that works with athletes is be intentional about your language. Often times people talk about diversity and inclusion, but those words historically have never included sexual orientation or gender identity.”