HONOLULU (KHON2) — Esera Tuaolo was born and raised in Waimanalo and ended up playing nine seasons in the National Football League. Tuaolo was a good football player making the 1991 all-rookie team with the Green Bay Packers and playing in the Super Bowl XXXIII with the Atlanta Falcons.

But he also kept a big secret of being gay until he came out in 2002. Tuaolo joined Wake Up 2Day to discuss his coming out journey and message to youngsters.

Some of the questions asked:

Was your biggest fear if you came out while playing?

“The biggest fear was somebody finding out, right? Because during that time the worst thing that you could do to a player was to accuse him of being gay or a fag. So it was — it was very difficult during that time. And then the fear of just getting hurt and losing your job and not being able to sort of pursue your dreams.”

What’s your message to the younger message to the younger generation — how much hope is out there?

“There’s a lot of hope. And it’s so encouraging to see now a lot of these athletes that are coming out. So just my advice to them is to when they’re ready — to come out because there’s the community, so much support out for them.”

Why do you think more people aren’t coming out of the NFL now — is it the lock room culture?

“I think it’s the locker room culture. The NFL is doing a fantastic job with the community — their outreach to the community, the LGBTQ community. But I think it — it is. It’s something that we need to sort of kind of get in there and sort of educate the locker room, the trenches and stuff like that. So that’s what we’re trying to do with my organization Hate Is Wrong.”