CBN.com Roy Simmons is one of only three NFL players to publicly discuss being homosexual. All three chose to speak of their sexual orientation after retirement from the league. But there is another side to Roy’s story that hasn’t been told, at least not until now.
In 1992, on The Phil Donahue Show, Roy Simmons had a major announcement.
"He comes here today" Donahue told the television audience, "to tell you that he is now and always has been gay."
"I don’t think we knew the repercussions that were going to come after that," Simmons explains. "My friends were in shock – 'Roy, you must have gone out and just gotten toasted and you got a major hangover.' "
This was not just any man revealing sexual secrets on national television. Roy had been the epitome of a macho, 290-pound offensive lineman in the NFL whose career ended much too early. He had a bright future from the start, signing a commitment to play with Georgia Tech. He boasted the ideal physique for football – big and strong, lots of speed. He was drafted by the New York Giants in 1979. But off the field, he had a secret: he was having sex with men. It was a well-kept secret, but ultimately the double life affected his on-field performance. The Giants got rid of Simmons.
"I was in shock," Simmons admits. "It really hurt me that I was released. It really, really did."
Roy caught a break. The Washington Redskins took a chance on him, and that same year the Skins made it to the Super Bowl… but lost to the Raiders by nearly 30 points. That didn’t matter much to Roy. He had other things to worry about. Among the special guests Roy had brought with him to the Super Bowl were multiple lovers, two females and one male.
By this point, Roy was drinking heavily and snorting cocaine. But he didn’t last long with the Redskins; they didn’t want him either. Most of Roy's wounds were self-inflicted, except for one. As a little boy, Roy did odd jobs around town. A woman asked him to clean her house. While she was out, her husband stayed behind at home and sought out Roy's company.
"He had some cocktails; he had been drinking," Simmons recalls. "Eventually, he called me into the room, and he turned me around and basically he did what he wanted to."
That was the first big secret in Roy’s life, and it had a profound impact. After the Redskins dumped him, Roy's NFL career was over. He had a quick stint in the second-tier USFL, but he became a broke, washed-up athlete with a drug addiction and a secret sex life. In 1990, he headed out West.
"I had heard about San Francisco, the gay life. It’s the gay capitol. It was kind of crazy, but it was like, well, since you’re in it, go all the way," Simmons reasoned.
That he did. He drank and did drugs. Some nights he even slept on the street. Worst of all, Roy actually prostituted himself to fund his drug habit.
"[That was] something I thought I’d never do," Simmons says. "I always said there were things I’d never do, and I kind of caught myself with that. I shoplifted and I prostituted, basically. I think that through the years there was a lot of confusion brought about in my life due to the rape. It led me in areas where I cared not to go, but I went there."
Roy believed God wouldn’t accept him as he was.
"When you’re out in sin," Simmons explains, "you really feel like you cut yourself off. You’re ashamed that 'oh, look what I’m doing. I can’t go to Him like this. I can’t go to God in prayer.' "
He surfaced briefly, making his appearance on Donahue. A few years later, a doctor gave Roy a grim diagnosis.
"He called me in, and he gave me the results," he remembers. "My knees buckled. He told me that my tests came back positive. I guess the initial thought was I’m going to die. I’ve known people, some of them a month, and then they’re gone."
Upon learning that he was HIV positive, Roy felt hopeless, like he was just waiting around to die. That's when he made a desperate call to best friend Jimmy Hester and decided to move to Martha’s Vineyard. There a remarkable physical and spiritual cleansing took place.
Jimmy Hester is also HIV positive. He went to the Martha’s Vineyard Holistic Retreat because of his HIV. He has made great strides with his physical health, but he also found something he never expected – a relationship with Jesus Christ. That relationship started soon after a Bible study invitation by his doctor, Roni Deluz.
Now Roy is also meeting with Dr. Deluz, and he’s feeling great. He was recently baptized.
Roy's pastor, Marcia Buckley, who quickly notes Roy's hunger for God, says, "One thing that he appreciates is the fact that he’s alive in the Lord and that God has given him a chance to live."
Roy has learned much from his pastor about his former lifestyle.
"We spoke on and learned about homosexuality and the connotations and everything that go along with it. It's really against God’s will," Roy states.
Roy devotes himself to the Lord and to purity. He has not been sexually active in more than three years.
"All that lying and cheating and all that backbiting and all that deceitfulness – I don’t practice that," he says bluntly.
Roy is eager to study the Word of God and to grow closer to the Lord.
"Thank God for Jesus, for Him dying for my sins. On a daily basis, I can go to Him in prayer and just put it out there and be honest about it," says Simmons. "Coming into the fold, coming into the knowledge of God, just how wonderful and great He is and powerful, and feeling the love of Jesus – it’s a beautiful feeling."
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