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Retired NFL players write touching letters to their younger, closeted selves

While there are currently no openly gay athletes active in the N.F.L., a handful of former players have come out since retiring from football. The MMBQ asked two of these men, Wade Davis and Esera Tuaolo, to write letters to their younger selves, "sharing what they experienced at various life stages and what they wished they had known along the way."

Reading their honest accounts of years spent struggling with self-hatred, depression and a paralyzing fear of being "found out" is pretty heartbreaking, but their advice to themselves (and, really, to others who find themselves in similar situations today) feels cathartic -- and plenty hopeful.

Here's Tuaolo writing to himself at 17:

The preacher at your Pentecostal church says the Bible condemns homosexuality. Ignore him. In that very same book, there’s an important passage. The Epistle of Paul to the Philippians tells you to “put no confidence in the flesh,” put your trust in God. He made you this way, and he doesn’t make mistakes. Religion will become both a comfort and a cover. You’ll date girls and tell them you’re saving it for marriage. You’ll feel bad, but it’s what you have to do to survive.

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