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Ex-NFL player Kwame Harris hopes outing helps gay athletes

Kwame Harris played for the 49ers from 2003-2007. (Greg Trott/Getty Images) Kwame Harris played for the 49ers from 2003-2007. (Greg Trott/Getty Images)

Former 49ers and Raiders offensive tackle Kwame Harris went on the record about being a homosexual player during his NFL career in an interview with CNN Friday morning.

Harris's homosexuality became public when he pleaded not guilty to charges of beating an ex-boyfriend in late January.

He told CNN Newsroom keeping his sexuality secret in an NFL locker room was not easy.

USA Today reports:

"You want to escape the despair and turmoil and your mind goes to dark places," Harris said of keeping his sexuality secret. "I'm happy today, and I'm glad they were just ideas and I didn't act on any of them.

"The cost was great not speak candidly open about myself in complete manner," Harris said. "If I could have done it differently, I would have hoped I found the strength [to come out]."

San Francisco wide receiver Chris Culliver was critical of gays playing in the NFL after Harris was outed in January.

"I don't do the gay guys man," said Culliver. "I don't do that. No, we don't got no gay people on the team, they gotta get up out of here if they do. Can't be with that sweet stuff. Nah…can't be…in the locker room man. Nah."

The 49ers quickly rejected Culliver's statements. He later apologized and met with a support group for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and questioning youths.

Harris said Friday he hopes other gay athletes understand they aren't alone in pro or amateur sports.

"I want people, whether gay athletes, athletes still in the closet, or youths who are not sure what their sexuality is to know those are common feelings," Harris told CNN. "Don't feel alone in having them."

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