For many, the name Wade Davis might not sound too familiar when thinking about the largest NFL stars. However, it is the work that this ex-NFL player is doing with the gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender or questioning youth in New York that is making him a standout.
Davis is a former cornerback that has served stints playing for the Washington Redskins, Seattle Seahawks and Tennessee Titans in the National Football League. Although never making it into any actual NFL regular season games, the cornerback did attend training camps as well as play in pre-season games from 2000-2003. The largest part of Davis’ success actually came with the European NFL, playing for teams such as the Berlin Thunder and Barcelona Dragons.
Participating in a sport such as the NFL, it prevented Wade from publicly speaking out and making his friends and teammates aware of the life that he desperately wanted to lead.
“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,” Davis told SBNation’s Amy Nelson. “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 adds that “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. I think about how close I was with Jevon and Samari (heterosexual teammates with the Tennessee Titans). It’s not like they’d like me less, it’s that they have to protect their own brand.”
Never wanting to jeopardize his friendships or chemistry with his teams, Davis never officially approached the subject while still in uniform. It wasn’t until after his football career that he was able to free himself and allow his new life to begin.
“There was a part of me that was a little relieved because, when I knew football was over, my life would begin,” Davis said. “I had this football life, but I didn’t have another life away from that. Most of the guys had a family and a wife, but I had football and nothing else.”
When asked about the possibility of a star player making a stand and proclaiming his sexuality in the near future, Davis is hopeful that it will happen soon.
“I can’t say it’s in the next five or 10 years, but I definitely think it’s on the horizon,” says Davis, who came out himself only recently.
“I started to realize that, ‘You know what? There’s an opportunity here for me to really make and affect change — not only with myself but with the world.”