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Former NFL Player, LGBTQ+ Advocate Esera Tuaolo to Speak At Arts and Lectures Event Feb. 7

Esera TuaoloA nine-year National Football League veteran who advocates for inclusion through the nonprofit Hate Is Wrong will speak at Ferris State University on Thursday, Feb. 7.  Esera Tuaolo will be welcomed by the Arts and Lectures Committee to the University Center Ballroom for a 7 p.m. presentation.

Neil Patten, a College of Arts, Sciences and Education communications professor and a member of the Arts and Lectures Committee, said Tuaolo welcomed Miss America 2019 Nia Imani to his second annual Super Bowl Inclusion Party on Tuesday, Jan. 29, as part of the festivities before Super Bowl LIII in Atlanta. Tuaolo, who competed in Season 13 of NBC Television’s “The Voice” in 2017, entertained along with Imani and Canadian singer Shawn Hook.

He also was a participant in the 2019 Hate Is Wrong Inclusion Panel, which was held the afternoon before the Inclusion Party at the National Center for Civil and Human Rights in Atlanta. Tuaolo founded Hate Is Wrong in November 2017, and has hosted panels in cities hosting the Super Bowl since that time.

“Esera is an advocate for inclusion, as he struggled to live an authentic life as a gay man playing in the NFL,” Patten said. “His work to support diversity in sport, diversity centers and anti-bullying campaigns for youth through Hate Is Wrong is incredible, and his inclusion parties seek to bring people from across the league’s spectrum to exhibit public support for this important cause.”

Tuaolo’s Feb. 7 Ferris visit is also part of the Festival of the Arts 2019, a long-standing collaborative event for the City of Big Rapids and the university. Patten said anyone from the local and regional community is welcome to attend this free event, which by happenstance will occur at the same time as a nationally-televised basketball doubleheader for the university. Ferris will host Ashland in men’s and women’s action that night.

“It is unfortunate that Esera’s visit has wound up on the same evening as those important contests,” Patten said. “He is very engaging and accommodating with his time, willing to do outreach and share his story face-to-face with students, athletes and people of all ages.”

Those with disabilities who wish to attend are invited to contact Joyce Mudel at (231) 591-3626 at least 72 hours before this event.

PHOTO CAPTION: Former NFL defensive lineman Esera Tuaolo, an advocate for inclusion and the LGBTQ+ community will speak in Ferris State University’s University Center Ballroom on Thursday, Feb. 7 at 7 p.m.