“It’s one of those times when you’re really passionate and in your zone,” Ayanbadejo told Bruni. “And I got to thinking about all kinds of things, and I thought: how can we get our message out there?”

According to Bruni, Ayanbadejo’s support for gay rights comes from childhood connections to a diverse group that included many that were openly gay or lesbian. He once lived in an LGBT dorm at the University of California, Santa Cruz, where his stepfather was the resident director.

“I was raised around gay people in a very liberal society,” Ayanbadejo told Bruni during an interview in September. “Discrimination was never allowed.”