By Ken Reed
Ryan O’Callaghan believed he could never share his secret with anyone. He had decided he would rather end his life than share his secret and risk the rejection of people he cared about.
His secret? Ryan O’Callaghan is gay.
Fortunately, thanks to a Kansas City Chiefs trainer, an astute psychologist and Scott Pioli, the Chiefs GM at the time, O’Callaghan made the decision to accept himself and be true to himself in public.
O’Callaghan was terrified to share his secret with psychologist Susan Wilson. He had never told anyone about his sexuality. Wilson finally built up enough trust that O’Callaghan opened up to her.
“It took a while to build up that strength to even tell her,” O’Callaghan said. “You have to build up trust with someone. Just telling her was like a huge weight off my shoulders.”
Wilson then convinced him to reach out to Pioli.
“People like me are supposed to react a certain way, I guess,” Pioli, now an executive with the Falcons, told Outsports.
“I wasn’t minimizing what he was telling me, but I’m waiting for the other shoe to drop. He built this up and built this up to the point where he said he was nearly suicidal. What Ryan didn’t know is how many gay people I’ve had in my life.”
O’Callaghan is now at peace and living in his home town of Redding, California. He’s sharing his story and helping people.
“As long as there are people killing themselves because they are gay, there is a reason for people like me to share my story and try to help,” says Callaghan.
— Ken Reed, Sports Policy Director, League of FansPrint
- League of Fans is a sports reform project founded by Ralph Nader to fight for the higher principles of justice, fair play, equal opportunity and civil rights in sports; and to encourage safety and civic responsibility in sports industry and culture.