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Before Michael Sam there was Eric Lueshen

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“Well, this is one giant step for Nebraska Athletics. Are you ready?”

It has been 11 years since Eric Lueshen asked his boyfriend this question at Nebraska’s student-athlete formal. At the time, there were no publicized gay athletes in major college football.

This was still the case until February  2014 when Michael Sam came out to the New York Times. Sam will be credited as football’s first openly gay athlete; however, that is not the whole truth.

Lueshen has been openly gay for the last 12 years. As a football player for the Nebraska Cornhuskers (2003-06), his teammates knew his sexual orientation and generally accepted him for it.

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Yet it never became news.

He shares his story on YouTube.  Eric reaches out with his heartfelt personal story and a message of hope, love, and acceptance. In the wake of Michael Sam coming out, Eric Lueshen, a former openly gay kicker for the Nebraska Cornhuskers football team from 2003-2006, was approached to share his story.

He talks about his initial struggles of being accepted at a major collegiate football program over a decade ago, coming out to his Husker teammates, the transformation of homophobic players, a career ending back surgery, and ultimately being accepted and respected for who he is. He ends with a message of hope to everyone that “it gets better” and encourages them to live life on the other side of fear.

Eric lives in Chicago now and you can find him on Facebook  and Twitter.