Former NFL player Wade Davis now speaks publicly about what it was like to be closeted in the National Football League (Photos courtesy Wade Davis)
|Former NFL player Wade Davis|
Davis, a former defensive back, never cracked a 53-man NFL roster. But he was signed as a free agent by the Tennessee Titans and played in the preseason for the Washington Redskins and Seattle Seahawks before moving on to NFL Europe, where he played for the Barcelona Dragons and the Berlin Thunder.
This past weekend, Davis closed Montreal’s fifth annual Afro-Caribbean gay and lesbian film festival, Massimadi, with a free public lecture at the Imperial Theatre, where he talked about how he worked hard to maintain his “straight” cover in the NFL.
“In my football days, I was one of the guys, I was very well liked, so I had this persona to keep up,” Davis told me. “I’d even go to strip clubs with the team to keep up my image of being a strong, heterosexual, masculine man. I remember spending my (entire first paycheque) in a strip club trying to act like one of the guys.
“This pressure didn’t really come from my teammates, it was more (from) how I grew up in the south. I believed being gay meant you were weak. So I tried really hard to push against that. By the time I got to college and the NFL (at age of 21 in 2000), coming out was not even an option.”