Former San Francisco 49ers offensive tackle Kwame Harris confirmed that he is gay in an exclusive interview with CNN and said he wished he would have come out while he was still playing.
"I want people, whether gay athletes, athletes still in the closet, or youths who are not sure what their sexuality is to know those are common feelings," Harris said. "Don’t feel alone in having them."
Harris opened up about some of the challenges of being gay in the locker room and offered some support for future players who are unsure of their sexuality.
"You want to escape the despair and turmoil and your mind goes to dark places," Harris said of keeping his sexuality secret. "I’m happy today, and I’m glad they were just ideas and I didn’t act on any of them."
"The cost was great (to) not speak candidly (and be) open about myself in complete manner," he added. "If I could have done it differently, I would have hoped I found the strength (to come out)."
Days before the Super Bowl, Harris was publicly outed after he reportedly was in an altercation with his former boyfriend. The topic drew a wide range of opinion, including a negative reaction from current 49er cornerback Chris Culliver.
"I don’t do the gay guys man," Culliver said. "I don’t do that. No, we don’t got no gay people on the team, they gotta get up out of here if they do. Can’t be with that sweet stuff. Nah…can’t be…in the locker room man. Nah."
Culliver apologized for his comments and since has visited with a support organization for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender youth.