Tuaolo, who is of Samoan ancestry, was born in Honolulu, Hawaii, and was raised in poverty in a banana-farming family in Waimanalo. His father died when Tuaolo was ten years of age.
He played college football at Oregon State University and was a member of the Pi Kappa Alpha fraternity. He was selected in the 1991 NFL Draft. Nicknamed "Mr. Aloha", Tuaolo played nose tackle for several teams in his career, reaching the Super Bowl in 1999 while playing with the Atlanta Falcons. He also played for the Carolina Panthers, Jacksonville Jaguars, Minnesota Vikings and Green Bay Packers during his career.
He also recorded the last tackle of football legend John Elway.
In 2002, having retired from sports, he announced to the public that he is gay, coming out on HBO's Real Sports. This made him the third former NFL player to come out, after David Kopay and Roy Simmons. He has since worked with the NFL to attempt to combat homophobia in the league and is a board member of the Gay and Lesbian Athletics Foundation. He also made an appearance on The Oprah Winfrey Show in 2004 to share his coming out story as well.
In 2006, Tuaolo sang the national anthem at the opening ceremony of the Gay Games VII, a quadrennial Olympics-style event. During his career with the Packers, Tuaolo once sang the anthem before a game against the Chicago Bears. Kopay administered the official's oath during the opening ceremony. Also that year, he testified at the State Legislature Senate Judiciary Committee hearing in opposition to an anti-gay-marriage bill.
Tuaolo's autobiography, Alone in the Trenches: My Life As a Gay Man in the NFL, was released in spring 2006. (ISBN 1-4022-0505-8) He also appeared on The Tyra Banks Show talking about his becoming open about his homosexuality to the NFL and speaking out against their "Don't ask, don't tell" policy which is similarly held by U.S. Scouts groups.
Alone in the Trenches: My Life As a Gay Man in the NFL by Esera Tuaolo (2006)
Paperback: 296 pages
Publisher: Sourcebooks (June 1, 2007)
Amazon: Alone in the Trenches: My Life As a Gay Man in the NFL
This is Esera Tuaolo's own searing story of terror and hope. A Samoan raised on a Hawaiian banana plantation, he had a natural talent, football. He went on to play for five NFL teams: the Green Bay Packers, the Minnesota Vikings, the Jacksonville Jaguars, the Carolina Panthers, and the Atlanta Falcons in the 1999 Super Bowl. But for the nine years he played professional football he lived in terror that when his face flashed upon the TV screen, someone would divulge his darkest secret. Esera Tuaolo is gay.
Alone in the Trenches takes you inside the homophobic world of professional football and describes fears that almost drove him to suicide. He evokes heartbreak--how his older brother, Tua, died of AIDS--and hope when, Esera, a deeply devout Christian fell in love and started a family.
More Spotlights at my website: www.elisarolle.com/, My Lists/Gay Novels
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