Wade Davis electrified the audience with his heartfelt tale of coming out as an NFL player in the Cooperage at Sonoma State University. Davis is a former NFL cornerback who played for the Tennessee Titans, Seattle Seahawks, and Washington Redskins, and also played for the Berlin Thunder and Barcelona Dragons in the European version of the NFL. He walked in with bright pink shoes, and immediately connected with the audience, making it more like a conversation rather than a lecture.
“I like how personal he made the ‘lecture’,” said Sonoma State student Chris Whalen. “He seemed to really strike a nerve with some people, and although he was hilarious, he still got his point across.”
Davis opened up about his story as a football player and as a gay man, from his childhood till the present. He discussed how growing up he loved the game of football but also that he was a huge mama’s boy.
“We would play from seven in the morning till seven at night,” said Davis. “But at night I would come home and watch soap operas with my mom, like the Young and the Restless.”
Davis came from a religious background, and from day one he was told that being gay was wrong. In the tenth grade he noticed he was attracted to males, and was freaked out. From then on in high school he became a bully because he did not want anyone to know his secret.
He attended Weber State University, and he played football there. He talked about how he first experienced being with another man.
“It was the most amazing experience, but it also freaked me out,” said Davis.
From then on Davis knew that he could not deny the fact that he was attracted to males, but he did everything in his power to prove that he was heterosexual. From going to strip clubs to going to all the parties, Davis wanted to prove to everyone that he was a ladies’ man.
Davis got drafted by the Tennessee Titans in 2000, and he continued to hide his true gender identity. When he was a rookie a veteran told him “Hey Wade stay away from that guy, he’s bisexual.” So Davis continued to hide until his NFL career ended in 2003. He moved to New York and decided that he was going to come out.
He talked about how everyone took it as a joke at first because they did not believe he was gay. When he told his mother, she disowned him because she refused to believe that her son was homosexual. But he was able to reconnect with his mother and work through it.
Davis really connected with audience and opened himself up. He provided a sense of hope and strength for many individuals in the audience who had questions.
“He gave great advice for people who needed it,” said Whalen. “I aspire to be able to help people like he does one day.”
Davis was able to bring together the topics of football and homosexuality, and he really inspired the audience.