Napoleon Jinnies made history last year when he became one of the first male cheerleaders for the NFL.
In a piece for Refinery 29, Jinnies spoke about his sexuality, saying he was bullied for being a gay kid who wanted to dance more than play sports.
“I was always the only boy on the dance team in junior high and high school, and during those years I was bullied for being gay,” he said. “The bullies would make comments in the hallway and one time someone put gum in my hair.”
Jinnies and teammate Quinton Peron performed at the Super Bowl in Atlanta on Feb. 3, becoming the male cheerleaders at the game. Peron and Jinnies joined the Los Angeles Rams for the 2018 season.
The dancer said that the bullying “got to a point where I didn’t want to go to school anymore” and transferred to another high school, according to HuffPost. He said he continued to dance and began to do so competitively at his California college.
Jinnies joined the Rams’ cheerleading squad in March 2018 and was unsure what the public reactions would be, but “the L.A. community has shown us nothing but love. Surprisingly, the world has also had open arms,” he said.
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Teddy is a multimedia journalist who serves as the culture and political writer for EBONY. His work has appeared in NBC's Owned and Operated stations, as well as DNAInfo, which covered local neighborhood news in New York City. He received his Masters in Journalism from the Craig Newmark School of Journalism at CUNY in 2017.