I noticed they discussed CTE in the documentary as a factor. I do agree it is a factor, but Hernandez had issues that began far before he began playing football. In prison phone calls, he upbraids his mother for not getting him proper treatment for his Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder, for not attempting to understand him as a child and hints that he attempted to come out to her as a young teen, but that she discouraged that. During one disturbing phone call, he states he would “beat the shit,” out of her if she was in front of him.
He struggled with his sexuality and gender role as a child. He wanted to be on a football field….but not as a football player. He wanted to be a cheerleader, but his father wouldn’t “put up with that faggot shit.” Hernandez was experimenting sexually with at least one other boy as early as middle school. With his father’s obvious attitude toward homosexuality, and the overall Hispanic/Latino attitude toward male homosexuality in particular, it is obvious Hernandez felt he needed to stay closeted. Combine that with the macho football culture and you have the perfect storm. It’s incredibly telling that he committed suicide two days after his possible outing was revealed by Michele McPhee on that radio show. I think CTE was a mitigating factor, but only served to exacerbate Hernandez’s undiagnosed behavioral and mental health diagnoses/issues.
I think the most tragic part of Aaron Hernandez’s story was that he was never able to speak his own truth about his sexuality. The world heard Dan SanSoucie detail their sexual relationship that began in middle school and lasted into high school. The world heard that he murdered Odin Lloyd because Lloyd was allegedly going to reveal that he was gay. The world heard Kyle Kennedy’s attorney confirm the third letter he left was for Kennedy and that Kennedy was his “prison boyfriend”. The world heard the prison phone call where he said he was “attracted to men and it makes me mad all the time.” But Aaron Hernandez was never able to stand up and speak, in his own time and his own words, his truth about his own sexuality. He was never able to say, without shame, anger or humiliation, that he was attracted to men and that he was a gay man. Maybe if he’d been able to go to his father and say, “Dad, I want to be a cheerleader,” and his father had been able to find it within himself to say, “Son, that’s great. Where can we sign you up,” maybe Aaron Hernandez’s life may have taken a different course. Maybe if Aaron Hernandez had been able to sit down with his mother and say, “Mom, I feel confused. I am attracted to other boys. What does this mean for me? Is there something wrong with me,” and his mother had said, “No, Aaron, there is nothing wrong with you. Some boys like other boys, the way some boys like girls. This can be confusing. We can figure this out together,” maybe Aaron Hernandez wouldn’t have annihilated three lives and then obliterated his own. We’ll never know though. Because Aaron Hernandez was failed and in return, he failed his own child.
EDIT: u/dzl1717 brought this to my attention:
“Note he may have also preferred to have identified as bisexual/pansexual (versus gay/homosexual). I think I read somewhere that men who identify as bisexual have even higher incidences of mental health issues than men who identify as just gay or straight.
Ultimately, his sexual identification would have been his own story to potentially communicate as he grew and changed throughout his life.”
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