Jack Brennan cemented a celebrated legacy when he retired from his position as Cincinnati Bengals public relations director in 2016. Now, five years into retirement, Brennan is adding to that legacy by living out as his true self.
Speaking to The Athletic, Brennan came out as queer and revealed that he is working on a book that delves deeper into his identity and experiences. Brennan describes himself as a “crossdresser” in a short excerpt from the forthcoming book.
“I feel like I want to become more genuine to people around me and not hide anymore. And maybe, I don’t know, someone else will see this and it will help them,” Brennan said.
In an email to Outsports, Brennan said that reaction to his coming out has been keeping him busy. “This has been a wild day,” he said. Brennan confirmed his pronouns are he/him/his except when he is presenting femme: “Female [pronouns] are fun when I’m dressed but not required.”
Brennan touched on the NFL’s attitudes toward LGBTQ acceptance multiple times during his 23-year tenure with the franchise. Following a 2017 column for Cincinnati City Beat, in which he related his own experience with the Bengals to the larger issue of the absence of out LGBTQ players in major North American sports leagues, Brennan penned a powerful op-ed for Outsports about the NFL and future out gay players.
“Sometime in the not-too-distant future,” he wrote, “the football pipeline will send a top openly gay prospect to the NFL. And if he fails to succeed, it won’t be because he’s gay, or because anybody outlandishly persecuted him for it. And he doesn’t succeed, the next gay guy will. And when one really has succeeded — more than Michael Sam — the dam will start to break, and football and all the rest of us will be much better for it.
Brennan told The Athletic he hopes that his coming out as queer will help cultivate an accepting environment overall, but specifically within NFL communities.
Yet, all through my years of being in the league — and this goes for the NFL sportswriting community, too — it’s almost like it was magically, wordlessly scrubbed free of the idea that anybody is anything but textbook straight. You just never hear a word of anybody being otherwise. It’s assumed, it’s in football’s DNA, that nobody is queer — it’s just anathema to the goals of toughness and winning. And this goes beyond the locker room, it’s there even in marketing, ticketing, the equipment room, the training room. It’s kind of hard to describe, but it’s just silently and unmovably there: Nobody could possibly be anything but straight.
Part of that process was coming out to those Brennan worked the closest with during his NFL tenure. Brennan informed Cincinnati Bengals owner Mike Brown and the organization as a whole, prior to speaking with Joe Posnanski of The Athletic. “I felt I owed it to the Bengals that this not come as a surprise. That was nerve-wracking, to tell Mike Brown. But he responded as I thought and hoped he would, with kind words, Brennan said.
Outsports congratulates Jack Brennan for living his truth out and proud.