Human Rights Campaign National Dinner

This year, I had the honor of being one of the special guests of HRC’s National Dinner. I got a chance to meet with the great leaders behind the largest LGBTQ organization in the world. Other special guests included Jake Choi, Dominique Jackson, and Ricky Martin. Below is a snippet of my speech, and a link an exclusive behind the scenes video created by me and my boyfriend, Corey O’Brien. Please, follow the link, comment, share, and like. Thank you. 


 Just recently, my nephew visited me in Los Angeles, and we spent almost an entire week together. Throughout his visit, he said the words “Uncle Wyan” at least 43,256 thousand times. Sometimes my nephew wanted food, pizza, McDonald’s, gummy worms. Other times he wanted me to hook up my Xbox so that he could play Fortnight until his bedtime. Most of the time, though, my nephew just wanted my attention, he just wanted me to acknowledge he existed. He wanted to be seen. He would say “Uncle Wyan” as loud or as many times as he could, gasping for breath in between because for my nephew being visible was more important than breathing. 

 Visibility is essential to life. Visibility is an affirmation. When you see someone in the movies, on the playing field, in the media, or in magazines that is like you, you feel as though this big scary world isn’t as big and scary as you might have thought before. That though there are nearly 8 billion people on this planet, more of them might be just like you than you think. As a young black man, I was lucky enough to see black people rise in all of the areas I spoke of. I saw great black lead actors, black musicians, black icons, black politicians, and just like that, I felt my existence wasn’t at odds with the world. As a black man, there are still many obstacles to overcome, but I thought I could see the change and maybe even be a part of it. Nevertheless, as a young bisexual man in professional sports, the representation was next to none, and the need for progress was monumental. 

 Truthfully, being the only “out” professional athlete in the four major sports leagues, was not my attempt at being a hero, an activist, or a trailblazer. I just wanted to be able to breathe; I wanted to hold my boyfriend’s hand, I wanted to play football free and liberated, I wanted to look in the mirror and love the man looking back at me, not attempt to smother him. Visibility was essential to my life. There won’t be many until there’s a first. I’m lucky that the people in my life, the higher power above, and the man in the mirror allowed me to be that person. There’s a young player out there, someone’s son, brother, or nephew, gasping for air, begging to be seen. I see you, and I’m with you.  

Corey & Russ | BTS Human Rights Campaign National Dinner