When openly gay former NFL player Esera Tuaolo first heard the Super Bowl was coming to his adopted hometown of Minneapolis in 2018, the wheels started turning. The defensive end has, since he came out publicly in 2002, dedicated much of his life to building bridges between his NFL family and his LGBT community.

On Jan. 31 he will get another chance to build more bridges as he hosts Esera Tuaolo’s Inclusion Party in Minneapolis the Wednesday before the Super Bowl.

“I think this will be an amazing opportunity to use the Super Bowl platform to forge a partnership with the NFL to foster inclusion of the LGBT community,” Tuaolo said. “These are the kinds of things we need to do, to build things like this.”

Tuaolo has recruited some great talent to perform during the big party, including various singers from ‘The Voice’ like Red Marlow and Keisha Renee. The party will be held at the Pourhouse from 7pm to 2am on Wednesday, Jan. 31. Tickets range from $50 to $250 and can be purchased through the Hate Is Wrong Web site.

As a fundraiser, the party will include a silent auction. There will also be the chance to win tickets to the Super Bowl, among other prizes.

Important for Tuaolo has been to engage key partners to demonstrate a dedication to inclusion in football at the event. Endorsing the party are both the NFL and the NFL Legends, along with the Minnesota Super Bowl Host Committee. Adidas has joined as a presenting sponsor. He’s already gotten commitments from former NFL players, including Hall of Famers, to attend the party.

Tuaolo hopes all of this will serve as a beacon of hope for gay NFL players living lives of secrets.

“I played in the NFL,” he said. “I understand the things I’ve gone through and the things our brothers in the closet are going through. When you create something like this you put something on the table to be talked about.”

Proceeds from the event will be donated to several non-profits in the Minneapolis area, including Avenues For Homeless Youth, Pacer’s National Bullying Prevention Center and Tuaolo’s Hate Is Wrong charity.

Tuaolo is already planning a party at the Super Bowl next year in Atlanta, where he played with the Falcons ultimately reaching the Super Bowl.

“It’s not a gay party, it’s not a straight party, it’s an inclusive party. Everyone is welcome to this party.”

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