"Today, I have two goals: returning to the NFL, and living my life openly. I want to live my dream of playing the game I've worked my whole life to play, and being open about the person I've always been." 

-- Ryan Russell 

Ryan Russell

8 p.m. Tuesday, February 4, 2020
Campus Center Ballroom, University at Albany, 1400 Washington Ave., Albany. 
See map
Free and open to the public.

Ryan Russell is the first openly LGBTQ player in the NFL, and the only male athlete in the four major professional sports leagues to self-identify as LGBTQ.


A defensive end, Russell played football for Purdue University, the Dallas Cowboys (2015) and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers (2016-17). He is currently a free agent, and plays off-season and on the practice squad of the Buffalo Bills.


Russell is also a writer and published poet. His first book of poetry, Prison or Passion (2019), captures the struggles of being a young boy without a father, and the strength that comes from building one’s own definition of manhood.


Brandon Wade/Associated Press

As told to ESPN

"Until recently, I didn't love myself enough to live openly and honestly. I was ashamed of who I am. I prayed countless nights for God to take away this part of me. I was ashamed to love women because I knew I could also love men. I stayed up so many nights in fear of being found out, in fear that the professional sports world would reject me for the way I was born. I lied to myself every chance I could. I looked in the mirror and lied, got into relationships and lied, woke up every morning and went to sleep every night lying about the fullness of my soul...

For myself, I'm not looking to be a symbol or media star. I just want to play ball for a team that knows me off the field and values me on it. I want to encourage teammates to be the same people they have always been. I want us to remain as close as family. I want to be able to dedicate my life to football without feeling like I can't dedicate my life to truth as well."

Read more.

Sponsored by

UAlbany’s Sexuality Month, an annual spring series of the Middle Earth Peer Assistance Program of the Center for Behavioral Health Promotion. Cosponsors include the Division of Student Affairs, Student Association, UAS, and the NYS Writers Institute.


View the full schedule of events in the 2020 Sexuality Month brochure.

Photo by Maryanne Russell  

NYS Writers Institute

Science Library 320

University at Albany

1400 Washington Avenue
Albany, NY 12222

(518) 442-5620

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