Two NFL staff members shared their personal stories Monday for National Coming Out Day.
Stevie Johnson, a director of marketing strategy for the NFL, talked about coming out, being out, struggling with her sexuality as a kid and finding widespread acceptance in the NFL front office.
“When I arrived [at the NFL] three seasons ago I came as an unapologetically gay woman,” Johnson said in her video. “I know who I am, and I’m proud and excited to introduce my wife to my family, my wife and my NFL colleagues.”
Lya Vallat, Senior Coordinating Producer at NFL Network, has been “out and proud” since she was 16 years ago. She said that all of her NFL colleagues have created a space in which she feels supported and included.
“Football really is family,” Vallat said in the video. “And as we celebrate National Coming Out Day, I hope that all of you find the support you need to live your true, authentic selves.”
The response to the videos shared by the NFL earlier this week has been a powerful statement of inclusion, each of them told Outsports.
“An outpouring of support, love, identification and allyship from colleagues, friends and family, especially co-workers, both public and private,” Johnson said. “I continue to be amazed by my NFL teammates and how a small gesture to show up authentically and be vulnerable is not only embraced, but also amplified, lifting and centering underrepresented and marginalized communities in sport.”
Vallat shared the same sentiment.
“When the video was released to our NFL employees, I received so many loving and supportive responses from familiar colleagues, to people that I have never met before,” Vallat told Outsports. “To read words like, ‘this was a great way to start my day’ or ‘let’s go Lya’ and ‘ loooove’ made it easy to continue living my truth. Football really is Family.”