Gay NFL Veteran Esera Tuaolo: “I Did Not Feel Safe At All In The Locker Room”

Esera TuaoloWith NFL draft hopeful Michael Sam in the running to become the first out athlete in major league sports, discussion has switched from the inevitable “When will we have our first gay football player?” to the more concerning “How will they be treated in the locker room?”

Popular opinion may be changing in favor of LGBT athletes, but today’s news of homophobia and racism in the Miami Dolphins locker room sheds light on the brutal reality that LGBT players may not feel welcome in the NFL.

Earlier this week, openly gay retired NFL star Esera Tuaolo dropped by HuffPo Live, where he spoke candidly on the subject. “I did not feel safe at all [in the locker room],” he said. “It was so hard…being in that masculine environment. The secret killed me.”

More from Tuaolo in the interview below. Make sure to pick up his book, Alone in the Trenches: My Life as a Gay Man in the NFL:

Get Queerty Daily

Subscribe to Queerty for a daily dose of #eseratuaolo #homophobia #lgbtathletes stories and more


  • hotshot70

    The problem with Gay player in NFL is not the fans, but the lockers! Some of the players may think every gay man wants to fuck them (we don’t!) If the homophobic players cannot accept an openly gay player, cut them from team. They may have a gay player in the locker already and not even know it.

  • Respect4all

    The country, and hopefully the NFL, has changed a bit since Tuaolo was a player. We’ll see.
    “Homophobia is the fear that gay men will treat you the way you treat women.”

  • Harley

    @hotshot70: Correction. Count all the players in the locker room, divide by 10. That’s how many gay players there ARE. Just not out.

  • Vincent22


    Sadly that’s not the case, as the NFL is not a true sampling of our population. Otherwise, the racial make up of an American team would be only 13% African American and 77% White and 16% Hispanic reflecting that of the U.S. population. Because other factors influence who goes into the NFL, it won’t be a representative sample. But the good new is it could be higher than 10% :).

  • tjr101

    @Harley: Thats a relatively rosy view to have of the NFL, but as Vincent has pointed out the NFL is not an accurate reflection of American society simply because there are barriers to getting into the sport. African Americans are overrepresented in the NFL and Hispanics are grossly underrepresented.

    If anyone of you have experience being a part of an athletic team you would understand what Tuaolo is saying, the locker room is a highly charged testosterone filled, homophobic environment.

  • BJ McFrisky

    “It was so hard . . . being in that masculine environment.”
    Then join a sewing circle and don’t play football, you buffoon. Jesus.

  • misterhollywood

    Interesting story – thanks for sharing this Queerty. I think there are a lot of idiots in the NFL and there appears to be a lot – tons, of homophobia.

Comments are closed.