Esera Tuaolo toiled for nine years as a 300-pound defensive lineman in the National Football League—eventually reaching the pinnacle of the sport, playing for the Atlanta Falcons in Super Bowl XXXIII.
But as a gay man in the National Football League, Tuaolo was forced to hide his sexuality. It was after retiring from professional football that Tuaolo became fed up with pretending to “be straight.”
Tuaolo, who has been in a committed relationship for more than 10 years and has two adopted children, finally announced his sexuality in 2002, a decision he describes as “taking off a costume I've been wearing all my life.”
Tuaolo will visit Lehigh on Wednesday, April 11 to speak at Packard 101 at 7 p.m. His lecture, which is free and open to the public, will focus on how he hid his homosexuality during his NFL career and the reaction he received when he publicly announced that he was gay. He hopes to inspire others to achieve their best by speaking to their individual truths without fear or intimidation.
Tuaolo’s lecture is presented by LGBTQA (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer and Ally) Programs and Outreach. Afterward, Tuaolo will sign copies of his autobiography “Alone in the Trenches: My Life as a Gay Man in the NFL.”
Tuaolo, a native of Hawaii, played at Oregon State, where he earned honorable mention All-American honors, before being drafted by the Green Bay Packers in 1991 (the 35th pick overall). He played for the Panthers, Vikings and Jaguars, and for the Falcons, the team he was with in Super Bowl XXXIII.