College football star Kennedy McDowell dishes on his favorite drag divas, having a gay brother & being a gossip queen

College football star Kennedy McDowell dishes on his favorite drag divas, having a gay brother & being a gossip queen

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Kennedy McDowell is the only out gay player in NCAA Division 1 college football. But to him, his sexual identity is old news.

The Colorado State standout has been out and proud since he was a high school student in Frisco, Texas.

McDowell arrived on our rainbow radar last fall, when he talked about his sexuality in an Athletic article about the diversity of Colorado State’s football team as a whole.

When McDowell was visiting college campuses last year, receding back into the closet was never an option. He arrived in Fort Collins with pizzazz.

“It’s time to show the world who Kennedy really is,” he wrote on Instagram.

Mission accomplished.

The Rams welcomed McDowell with open arms. He says nearly all of his teammates knew he was gay before the season started, and the coaches made him feel at home.

“They were like, ‘You play football, dude,’” he said in an interview with Denver’s 9News. “Coach [Jay] Norvell felt like a father when I got here. He felt like my dad.”

But that’s not say McDowell didn’t deal with adversity during his freshman campaign. Roughly halfway through the season, he suffered a head injury.

Sidelined for the rest of the season, McDowell led in a different way. He knows his presence is important, especially for other young LGBTQ+ athletes.

Though McDowell has been out since middle school, he knows every kid doesn’t have that luxury. He wants to be a role model for those who lack visible gay figures in their lives.

“I want to inspire people. There’s a lot of queer athletes out there and some of them are in the closet and that’s totally OK,” he said. “I just want to say love everyone and make sure that you love yourself, because if you can’t love yourself, then how are you gonna love someone else?”

RuPaul couldn’t have said it better herself!

With the spring semester in full swing, Queerty recently caught up with McDowell and talked about his freshman season, craziest Texas high school football story and is all-time favorite drag queens. Here’s what he had to say…

QUEERTY: What was the highlight of your freshman season?

KENNEDY MCDOWELL: I would definitely have to say working out with everybody, and getting a feel for my new football family. Growing up, in middle school, I had my football team. That was my football fam. I had my high school team. Now to have a college football fam is very comforting. I love it!

What’s the biggest difference between the high school and college game?

It’s sooo much faster. I got a feel for how fast it was at practice; but still, being out there in a huge stadium. I’m used to playing in huge stadiums back in Texas, but it’s just a different feel. So much faster, so much more mature, I would say.

We know that high school football is a big deal in Texas. Do you have any crazy stories?

Oh my God! There are literally hundreds I could tell! I do remember one vividly. I wasn’t even in high school yet, this was middle school ball. I was on one of the top teams in the nation, and we would fly around the U.S., whooping everybody’s ass. It was so fun. We went to Florida, and were in this huge tournament. We got to the semifinals, and were facing this team from Cali. Now this team was supposed to be the top dogs in this bracket, and we were putting up a good fight. Things were said, and somebody took their helmet off and started swinging. Then players on both teams just started to take their helmets off and beat each other up. 

Then parents came in, you’ve got parents whoopin’ up on children, coaches fighting each other. It was a full-out brawl! It was kind of like that every weekend, but this was a bad one.

I know you suffered a serious head injury this season. After going through an experience like that, what makes you want to come back and play?

It’s really funny. I actually don’t remember anything about it, so I don’t have any trauma. I don’t remember the entire day. I was out of it. So I’m actually very blessed and grateful that I don’t remember anything. It doesn’t scare me.

I noticed you closed an interview with a famous line from RuPaul: “If you don’t love yourself, how are you gonna love somebody else?” Who are your all-time favorite queens?

For looks, Utica. I love Utica’s looks. They were very unique! For humor, either Bianca Del Rio or Simone. I love me some Simone. And how could I forget, Jinx Monsoon! I love Jinx. 

You definitely don’t hide yourself on social media. What’s the gayest thing about you?

Ohhh, I like this question! The gayest thing about me is, the way I talk s***. The way I can sit down with a friend and say, “Ooph, let me tell you.” It’s so bad! Sometimes, I’m like “dang, that’s terrible.” Gossip queen!

What are your favorite bops right now?

I love these questions! Currently, “Texas Hold ‘Em” has been at my top. I have been obsessed with “Black Mascara” by Raye. It hits every bone in my body. I’m also obsessed with Sabrina Carpenter.

What are your favorite things to do away from football?

I love writing poetry. I’ve been writing poetry since I was in fifth grade. I do it to cope with my feelings. I have a hard time understand my feelings, so it helps. Poetry is like my purest feelings. It’s free verse, I’m just putting those words down. 

You told me your older brother is gay as well. What’s your relationship like?

It’s probably the tightest thing ever. My whole family, I’m obsessed with them. I think about them every single day. I don’t know if I would be who I am as a gay man today if it wasn’t for Devin. He came out before me, and took most of the heat from my dad, so I could also come out an early age. I love him so much.

What’s the best gay experience you’ve had?

I want to say the gay clubs, but I’ll just say Pride, all in one. Specifically, Dallas Pride. I had so much. I saw Shangela, I saw Lady Davenport. It was amazing. That was my first Pride, and I spent it with my boyfriend at the time, and my older brother and his fiancé. It was the best time ever!


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