R.K. Russell: BiSexual NFL Player
We are thrilled to bring you an exclusive interview with R.K. Russell, the first openly bisexual NFL player! R.K. is full of life, love, and is passionate about his new book The Yards Between Us.
This Pride month, we want to thank R.K. for reminding us to celebrate our bisexual brothers and sisters! R.K. is an inspiration and just knowing how much strength it took for him to come out of the closet, makes him an LGBTQIA hero!
When did you first fall in love with Football?
The moment I picked up a football and became part of a team, I loved football. Football has changed the course of my life for the better. It's a game that demands everything from you - your strength, your heart, your soul, but in turn, it can give you so much brotherhood, mentorship, a sense of accountability, and responsibility. The sound of cleats on turf, the roar of the crowd, the feeling of sweat and blood running down your face - it's a symphony of sensations and thrills that become intoxicating. Still, how it filled my heart off the field and the connections I made in high school when I first started still hold strong today. Football will forever be a huge part of my life.
What accomplishment are you the most proud of?
My heart swells with emotion when I think about my proudest moment coming out. Being the first openly bisexual player in the NFL was a risk but a chance to make a difference both in my life and in the lives both in and out of sports. Though it seems like speaking your truth can be a simple accomplishment, something I know to this day is challenging for many men in sports regardless of the level that they play at. It’s a decision that, when I look back, only grows in impact and complexity. That’s why I felt called to write my memoir, The Yards Between Us, to talk about the journey leading up to the moment and illuminate the complexities of love, life, and football.
Tell us about your new book, The Yards Between Us. What was your favorite part about writing a book?
Writing The Yards Between Us was a self-love journey, but you can’t have self-love without self-discovery. I could look deeply at my soul, its scars, the lives that shaped it, and how I either protected and cherished it or harmed and neglected it. It was a chance to confront my fears, doubts, and insecurities and share my story with the world. The process was painful and cathartic, like ripping off a band-aid to reveal the wound beneath. But it was also liberating, like stepping out of the darkness and into the light. I hope this book can also help others step into their light.
When you came out to the NFL, were there a lot of you teammates that were supportive? We would love to show the ones who supported you some love.
When I came out to my teammates, first in college, to my best friend Joe, it was like a weight had been lifted from my shoulders. I could finally be myself instead of constantly judging myself or fearing my best friend would reject me. And the support I received from my best friend emboldened me to start living a freer life in ways I felt comfortable. When I came out publicly in 2019, most of my teammates, from high school to the pros, sent warm messages of love, respect, and support; though we had all been scattered over the years, it felt like one big team coming together.
What advice do you have for young athletes who are currently in the closet?
To any young athlete struggling with their identity, I want you to know that you are not alone. You are a warrior, a champion, a force of nature. And you deserve to live on your own terms, without fear or shame. Sport is about embracing everyone; you deserve to be a part of that. So take a deep breath, find your courage, and know that there are people out there who will love and support you no matter what.
What are your plans for Pride this year?
Pride is a time to celebrate the beauty and diversity of the human experience. It's a chance to stand up and be counted, to raise our voices and demand equality, justice, and love. And this year, more than ever, we need that sense of community and connection. So let's march together, dance, laugh, cry, and love together. Let's leave our mark on the world.
What would you like to say to other bisexual guys who feel lonely or confused?
I know it's not always easy to embrace your true self, especially when the world around you doesn't always understand or accept it. But please know that there are others like you out there, walking the same path, feeling the same things. We are a community, a family, bound by our shared experiences and our unshakable truth. We are here for you, to listen, to support, to love. You are not weird or broken or less than. You are a beautiful, complex, and multifaceted human being, and your bisexuality is a part of that beauty.
You can follow R.K. Russell here: @rkrelentless
Buy his new book, The Yards Between Us, here.