NFL Veteran R.Ok. Russell Vows To Break More Barriers For LGBTQ People With New Memoir

After three years of residing publicly as his true self, Ryan “R.K.” Russell is able to share extra of his deeply private story.

Russell, who performed for the Dallas Cowboys and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, got here out as bisexual in 2019. Although he was an NFL free agent on the time, his announcement nonetheless broke limitations given the shortage of brazenly LGBTQ gamers within the “Big Four” skilled sports activities leagues, which additionally embody the NBA, the NHL and Main League Baseball.

The 30-year-old athlete displays on his journey towards reclaiming the narrative round his sexuality in his forthcoming autobiography, “The Yards Between Us: A Memoir of Life, Love and Football.” HuffPost caught a sneak peek on the cowl for the memoir, due out Could 16, 2023, by way of ESPN’s Andscape Books.

“Frankly, as a bisexual Black man in America, playing football was the easy part,” Ryan “R.K.” Russell mentioned.

Kwaku Alston for foureleven company/Andscape Books

“Coming out is just one moment,” Russell informed HuffPost. “Though it’s a big one, there was so much I had to go through to get there and so much more life to live afterward. I wanted to write a memoir specifically because writing has saved me time and time again through depression, grief, injury and heartache. … It’s a humbling experience to reflect on where you came from.”

He added: “In my three years since coming out, I haven’t seen the progress I was hoping for, and this felt like an opportunity for me to step up and make a change. The writing was a chance to work out unresolved trauma, celebrate my achievements, and fall in love with myself all over again, and I hope others can do the same as they read along.”

Along with Russell’s skilled experiences, “The Yards Between Us” paperwork his childhood in Carrollton, Texas, in addition to his school years as a defensive lineman for Purdue College in Indiana. He additionally shares the grief he skilled after the lack of his greatest pal and Purdue teammate, Joseph Gilliam, who died of most cancers in 2018.

Russell (left) and Corey O'Brien.
Russell (left) and Corey O’Brien.

Rodin Eckenroth by way of Getty Pictures

And although Russell was applauded by followers and LGBTQ rights advocates after popping out, he has not performed a sport for an NFL staff since opening up about his sexuality ― and he doesn’t shrink back from expressing that frustration in his guide.

“Frankly, as a bisexual Black man in America, playing football was the easy part,” he mentioned. “It’s getting up and enduring all the hate, misinformation, corruption and politics to get to the field that’s so intense.”

Nonetheless, “The Yards Between Us” is finally a hopeful narrative. Nowadays, Russell is fortunately in a relationship with dancer Corey O’Brien, whose spectacular TikTookay re-creations of iconic music movies have caught the attention of Justin Timberlake and the Spice Ladies, amongst different stars.

He’s additionally optimistic about Carl Nassib, who grew to become the primary energetic NFL participant to return out as homosexual in 2021. This week, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers signed Nassib to a one-year deal.

Trying forward, Russell hopes “The Yards Between Us” would be the first of many books and different artistic endeavors that can discover “love, Blackness, queerness, masculinity and human connection.”

“Inclusion is not only the message of my book but my life purpose,” Russell mentioned. “And it’s at the heart of everything I do.”