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Former NFL Player Ryan O’Callaghan Shares Struggles with Coming Out

  • Speaker Program

On September 30, 2022, our guest speaker, former NFL player Ryan O’Callaghan, shared his personal story of coming out at as gay. In college he played for the University of California, Berkeley where he earned all American honors and was the recipient of the Morris Trophy; presented to the most outstanding lineman in the Pac-12 conference. He was drafted by the New England Patriots in 2006 and had a six year NFL career. After retirement, he came out and went on to start The Ryan O’Callaghan Foundation to provide scholarship and support for LGBTQ athletes. He published his memoir titled, My Life On The Line in 2019. 

Mr. O’Callaghan shared his struggle with self-acceptance and that he had convinced himself that no one would accept him as a gay man, reconciling that he would end his life when his football career had ended. "I chose football as a cover for my sexuality. Football was my beard. No one would ever think a macho football player could be gay," he said. 

The turning point was when he came out to the Chiefs' clinical psychologist, and then later to teammates and family, who were all supportive. He now speaks openly about his struggles and coming out. He urged the students to simply be themselves. Following the School Meeting, he was available in the Kraft Theater for a Q&A session with students. 

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