Former NFL cornerback Wade Davis played for three teams in his four-year NFL career. He did not make much of an impact on the field, however after coming out as gay, he has been quite productive off the field.
Davis’ work with lesbian, gay, bi-sexual, transgender or questioning youth has helped him find an avenue to make a much larger influence than he ever made as a player.
“I started to realize that — you know what? — there’s an opportunity here for me to really make and effect change, not only within myself but in the world.” Davis told SBNation’s Amy Nelson.
“I think, subconsciously, I understood that being gay . . . the way I was raised. . . was wrong, and there was no way that my family, at least in my mind, would accept me. And also that my football family would [not] accept me, just because of the perception of being gay meant that you’re less masculine.”
Davis, who played for the Washington Redskins, Tennessee Titans and Seattle Seahawks, said sharing a locker room with heterosexual players was not a treat. “I never even remotely got aroused in the locker room,” he said. “You just want to be one of the guys, and you don’t want to lose that sense of family. Your biggest fear is that you’ll lose that camaraderie and family.”
While Davis is comfortable with his sexuality, he still showed some hesitation when asked if a non-star NFL player could ever come out as gay. Davis said, “I’ll be flat-out honest with you, it probably shouldn’t be if he wants to keep his job. If he’s a free agent who’s fighting for his job, maybe he shouldn’t. I don’t want to tell someone to give up their lifelong dream of playing in the NFL.”
Davis suddenly changed his mind. “You know what?” he said. “Yes, it should be. Screw it. I don’t want to be in the business of telling anybody they cant live their life authentically.”
He works now as a staff member at the Hetrick-Martin Institute for LGBTQ youth in New York City. “It’s a one-stop shop for not only gay and lesbian youth, but also non-conforming youth, to find really great services and a sense of family, if they don’t have that,” he said. “I tell people often that I’m living my second dream, because I get to do a job every day that really changes lives.”