A two-part documentary on the troubled life of deceased NFL star and once-convicted murderer Aaron Hernandez suggests that the former New England Patriots tight end was struggling with his sexuality before he hanged himself in a prison cell in April 2017.
Alyssa Anderson, Hernandez’s girlfriend while both attended the University of Florida, told the makers of Oxygen’s “Aaron Hernandez Uncovered” that they reconnected after his arrest for the murder of Odin Lloyd, when they began exchanging letters.
In one letter, Hernandez revealed that he’d been molested in his youth and confirmed Anderson’s suspicion that she’d caught him in a relationship with a man in his home state of Connecticut.
“He admitted to being molested as a kid,” Anderson said. “But he never dealt with it. It led to issues in his sexuality. … Back in college there were text messages I saw on his phone when he came back from a trip to Connecticut. There was a male, didn’t have a name, didn’t say too much, but it was a relationship with somebody. And when I questioned about it, he always denied it.
“In one of the letters he opened up about it, and he did admit to it.”
He wrote: “Please keep between this… But it’s not a shock, you caught me lol.”
In April 2017, Newsweek reported that law enforcement was investigating whether Lloyd had been killed for uncovering an intimate relationship between Hernandez and a male former high school classmate.
While in prison for the murder of Lloyd, Hernandez was on trial for the killings of two men in a 2012 drive-by shooting. Prosecutors threatened to raise the topic of Hernandez’s sexuality.
“His biggest concern about his sexuality was how it would impact [Hernandez’s fiancee] Shayanna [Jenkins] and somehow diminish — in her eyes — the tremendous love that he felt for her,” said Hernandez’s attorney George Leontire, an openly gay man who claimed the former NFL tight end had discussed his sexuality with him. “Here’s a man who happened to be gay who loved a woman. … This man clearly was gay. Acknowledged the immense pain that it caused him. I think that he also came out of a culture that was so negative about gay people that he exhibited some self-hatred.”
Prosecutors didn’t touch on Hernandez’s sexuality, and he was acquitted. Days later, he hanged himself. In September, the Boston University CTE Center revealed the former football star was suffering a severe case of CTE at the time of his death.
There’s no excuse for some of the despicable acts Hernandez carried out during his time on Earth, but whether his violence was spurred by CTE, his struggle with his sexuality, a combination of the two, or it was just in his nature, these revelations indicate that society still has a tragically long way to go in terms of acceptance of others’ sexualities.