For the first time, the National Football League will have a former player marry his same-sex partner.
Jeff Rohrer, a former linebacker who played for the Dallas Cowboys from 1982-1987, is marrying his partner Joshua Ross this weekend at Wattles Mansion Garden in Los Angeles.
“If I had told the Dallas Cowboys in the 1980s that I was gay, I would have been cut immediately,” Rohrer told the New York Times. “It was a different world back then, people didn’t want to hear that.”
Ross is currently a successful aesthetician in West Hollywood. Rohrer now produces television commercials.
The two met at a bar in May 2015. At the time Rohrer hadn’t come out yet as a gay.
Rohrer told the Times, “And if not for Josh, I’d still be in there (the closet.)”
This is the second marriage for Rohrer. His first marriage ended in a divorce and he has two children from it.
“I’m sure there’s going to be some people out there who have a negative reaction to this,” Rohrer said, “and I’m fine with it.”
Rohrer told the Times that it took him so long to come out of the closet because he didn’t think it had a place during his football career.
“People are born gay, as I was, though being gay was just something that had no place during the course of my football life,” Rohrer.
Greg Aiello, the longtime NFL senior vice president of communications, told the Times: “While coming out was taboo back in Jeff’s day, the NFL community is now very sensitive about this subject,” he said. “The league office and the teams have done a lot of work to ensure tolerance and inclusion in the workplace. There’s now a lot of sophistication about these kinds of issues.”
“Jeff was a bright and very personable guy that everyone liked,” Aiello said. “People who really know Jeff will be happy for him, and proud of him for living his truth.”
The celebration of the wedding will last the whole weekend. Starting with a dinner with their close friends and family on Friday night and on Saturday, Ross and Rohrer are hosting a hoedown leading to their ceremony on Sunday.
Sophia Briseno is a junior journalism student at Arizona State University