Gay Rumor Mill Ramping Up Over Manti Te’o ‘Dead Girlfriend’ Hoax


Notre Dame football player Manti Te'o won the nation's heart when the "girlfriend" he claimed to have met online died of leukemia. But it was revealed yesterday that said girlfriend never existed and it was all, Te'o claimed, an embarrassing hoax and he fell for it. But then inconsistencies began to appear in his story.

For example, there's the fact that claimed to have met the young woman, "Lennay Kekua," in person in 2009. Even Te'o's father said they had met. "Every once in a while, she would travel to Hawaii, and that happened to
be the time Manti was home, so he would meet with her there," he said.

But Notre Dame athletic director Jack Swarbrick said last night Te'o never met her. Swarbrick said it seemed a "group of people" perpetuated this hoax for cruel kicks, and that Te'o was not involved.

But an investigation by the site Deadspin leads to one person in particular, Ronaiah Tuiasosopo, a former football player who is now a gospel musician who has at the very least met Te'o.

From Deadspin's report:

Te'o and Tuiasosopo definitely know each other. In May 2012, Te'o was retweeting Tuiasosopo, who had mentioned going to Hawaii. Wrote Te'o, "sole"—"bro," in Samoan—"u gotta come down." In June, Te'o wished Tuiasosopo a happy birthday. How they know each other isn't clear.

We spoke to a woman we'll call Frieda, who had suggested on Twitter back in December that there was something fishy about Lennay Kekua. She was Facebook friends with Titus Tuiasosopo, so we asked her if she knew anything about Ronaiah.

"Manti and Ronaiah are family," she said, "or at least family friends." She told us that the Tuiasosopos had been on-field guests (of Te'o or someone else, she didn't know) for the Nov. 24 Notre Dame-USC game in Los Angeles. USC was unable to confirm this, but a tweet from Tuiasosopo's since-deleted account suggests he and Te'o did see each other on that West Coast trip. "Great night with my bro @MTeo_5! #Heisman #574L," Ronaiah tweeted on Nov. 23, the night before the game.

A source also said that Ronaiah may have tried the same trick on someone else before Te'o; Te'o just fell for it. That may be the case, but it's not hard to at least pause at rumors that this was all a big cover up for Te'o being gay.

"…Not since Troy Aikman have I been bombarded on email, text, Twitter and phone calls about the sexual orientation of any athlete the way I was today about Notre Dame linebacker Manti Te’o," writes Cyd Zeigler Jr at OutSports.

If the gay rumors turn out to be true, then perhaps the nation would see how far some people, particularly religious people and athletes, are willing to go because they still fear an unloving world. Opposing Views described such a hypothetical scenario as "the saddest way imaginable" to cover up one's sexuality.

If the gay rumors are not true, and this was just a huge, huge misunderstanding, then maybe this becomes a conversation not about the closet but about the ratio of sports versus academic funding at big schools like Notre Dame.


  1. says

    well, since he’s also a Mormon I think we can rule out that he’s a Closeted Homosexual, because being a Mormon means that you’re magically immune from every gay a homosexual.

    Being Mormons are magic. And at no point in history has a Mormon ever lied, because lying is a sin.


  2. Rich says

    There is nothing about this story that makes any sense whatsoever.

    That is, unless he’s in the closet. Then everything falls into place. It’s the only explanation that fits, IMHO.

    This is a terrible way for him to be (mostly) outed. And him choosing this moment to stay in the closet and continue the lie will only make it worse for him in the long run. But sadly, I can totally see why he would choose to do so. A Mormon football star at Notre Dame is the trifecta of homophobic environments. It’s sad.

  3. says

    This says a lot:

    “Think about the reasons you make up a fake girlfriend, then think about which makes more sense: Boredom, Heisman publicity, or throwing people off the scent of a gay man doing the one thing openly gay men still have never done to this day?

    A devout Mormon at a Catholic school, a rugged football player — these are communities that openly reject homosexuality, some of the last remaining vestiges of the decaying closet. There has never been an openly gay athlete in a major American sport, and who knows when that day will come. For now, athletes are pretty freakin’ scared to be the first, even though there could be big endorsement dollars in it for them. Wild speculation, perhaps, but maybe Te’o is just another in a long line of players who would rather live the straight life and not take the risk than declare his true self to the sports world.”

  4. redball says

    “A source also said that Ronaiah may have tried the same trick on someone else before Te’o….”

    I’m missing something: What trick did Ronaiah play?

    (Also: never heard of him before but–DAYUM!–Manti is foine.)

  5. says

    let’s not worry about “pushing him” and address the factors that, if he is indeed a closeted homosexual, are ALREADY pushing him to stay in.

    Mormon. in a Catholic School. playing football. with a fake-dead girlfriend. in a still-very-bigoted country and culture.

    he’s not being pushed to come out. he’s being pushed to stay in.

  6. Derrick from Philly says

    What in the hell did Saomans see in Mormonism? They’re so beautiful (thick and juicy). Every nationality of men I think are sexy have been f.cked up by some religion.

    People around the world should have kept their own native religions and not convert to homophobic Islam and Christianity.

    ‘course it’s not that easy to resist converting if you’ve got a sword or a gun to your head.

  7. Nat says

    Te’o was being marketed hard for the Heisman. I don’t think the gay rumour should be dismissed, but I think the more likely story is that a lie quickly spun out of control, and once that happened, other people became complicit in maintaining the deception.

  8. redball says

    Gigi…ahahahahaha…I saw a pair of ruby red slippers fall out of his mouth as soon as he opened it! (I’m so bad, y’all :-)…I know there are feminine str8 men out there, too….)

  9. 24play says

    “If the gay rumors are not true, and this was just a huge, huge misunderstanding, then maybe this becomes a conversation not about the closet but about the ratio of sports versus academic funding at big schools like Notre Dame.”


    Just Belonsky mindlessly babbling. As usual.

  10. Caliban says

    I 1st heard about this story last night and my immediate reaction was that the “dead girlfriend” sounded a lot like “I only date in Europe” stories that closeted celebrities tell.

  11. redball says

    24Play, I was unsure what that meant, too…my guess is that Belonsky’s insinuating that this whole may demonstrate how stupid Manti & Manti’s family is & why Notre Dame needs to increase its level of academic funding (i.e, in an attempt to cure stupidity)….

  12. Derrick from Philly says

    Thank you, Redball. I’m going to type the word “Samoans” one thousands times everyday until I find one. I’ll take a native Hawaiian also. I can spell that…today.

  13. William says

    Frankly, I think he is more asexual, if anything. shy and timid but needing to put up a big front in the locker room. Sure, he could be gay. Alas, many Samoans I know can get beefy for football (and then get really, really fat after BYU and others use them); however, that size doesn’t translate everywhere. Some of them mask their inadequacies with religion.

    And mormons have been siphoning off the Catholic formula for several decades now, targeting islanders (not just Samoans) and south americans, converting many and (just like evangelicals) swaying them with the promise of coming to the US. Frankly, when BYU realized they can make good football players it opened the door for them to declare that people other than white folks can be members in the church (and eventually enter the temple). later, they finally let african-americans in (and later, allowed them to lead prayer, etc.). Thank BYU football for all of that.

  14. peter says

    No beard like a dead beard? Seems like long way to go.

    He sounds like just about every other high profile jock who has been coached in public speaking — not really ‘gay’.

    In speculating on Te’o’s sexual orientation it is important to correct for the fact that a football player is every American gay man’s wildest dream! Since we want him to be gay even the slimmest possibility becomes proof.

  15. Gigi says

    @REDBALL My gaydar is 99.9% correct. This is what we know/have thus far:

    – video that pings my gaydar
    – fake dead girlfriend
    – allegedly talked to fake girlfriend (before she “died” every night and every morning
    – Mormon at a Catholic school
    – “macho” footballer
    – graphic arts major
    – good male friend who was prolly pretending to be his girlfriend
    Sum it all up and we have: GAY!

    We need to have Anderson Cooper interview him. There’s no way he could resist telling the Silver Fox the truth. Oprah? No way. No one will admit they’re gay to her. She’s a Big Beard.

  16. Rick says

    Oh, Lord, where to begin:

    “In speculating on Te’o’s sexual orientation it is important to correct for the fact that a football player is every American gay man’s wildest dream! Since we want him to be gay even the slimmest possibility becomes proof”

    This. I don’t see the slightest scintilla of evidence that Teo is gay. He might be, but I don’t see any evidence of it. The “story” here seems to revolve around whether he made up this “tragic” story to gain the sympathy of Heisman voters, not to try to cover up his sexual orientation. It is all way too elaborate for the latter, it seems to me–it is not as though anyone was actively trying to “out” him, after all.

    “Gigi…ahahahahaha…I saw a pair of ruby red slippers fall out of his mouth as soon as he opened it!”

    Behavior like this is precisely why gay athletes do not want to come out of the closet–they do not want to associate with a bunch of effeminate clowns who want to drag them down to their pathetic level

    And as for the “soft voice”, that is likely a reflection of Samoan culture–if you have ever heard Troy Palomalu talk, he sounds the same way….but he is not gay and he is a beast on the football field. More of a Samoan thing, most likely, than a gay thing

    “Frankly, I think he is more asexual, if anything. shy and timid but needing to put up a big front in the locker room.”

    And this assessment is based on what, praytell. Do you know the guy? What basis do you have to judge?

  17. Rick says

    By the way, I’ve been dealing with hideous thick discharge from my anus lately. I notice it most when I have my midday wipe. Does anyone have any suggestions for toilet paper that is softer on pustulant leaking anuses? Mine’s awful sore.

  18. Rick says

    “What in the hell did Saomans see in Mormonism? They’re so beautiful (thick and juicy). Every nationality of men I think are sexy have been f.cked up by some religion.”

    Come on, Derrick, admit it–your type is a blonde, blue-eyed guy like Leonardo Dicaprio’s character in “Django Unchained”, ideally with a whip in his hand. (LOL)

    If you haven’t seen “Django” yet, it is definitely your kind of film, trust me…..EVERY fantasy of yours on display on the big screen.

  19. Derrick from Philly says


    I estimate I’ve been with between 250 to 300 men in my life (fear of the virus stopped all that whorin’ in the 1980s). Out of all those penises only two and a half were White. (The half one I swore was Puerto Rican until we walked out of the bushes into the lights of the
    Ben Franklin Parkway). And the other two guys were ok–after about a half a bottle of bourbon.

    But I have nothing against integrationists– you get love where you can find it, and hopefully good sex too.

    And, Rick, you know those blue-eyed blonds aint for me. They’re just are too caught up in that “Culture of Effeminacy” you’re always moanin’ about. I like my men right off the cell block into my imagination and that’s just where they’ll stay.

  20. Lars says

    This story is all kinds of confusing and crazy. I happen to be a fan of Manti’s, and no matter which way the truth cuts, it’s just bad for him and his fans. Either he is a gigantic liar, or he is the victim of a very elaborate fraud. If it’s the latter, my heart would really break for him.

    As for the motivation…I guess it could be a complicated scheme to cover his sexuality. But isn’t it a lot more likely that — if he participated in the deception — the aim was to garner him sympathetic Heisman votes?

  21. Betocreativo says

    Can I get a flow chart or a very carefully crafted explanation with everything including play-doh? This bizarre episode is so confusing and messy? What the hell happened exactly and what exactly where that “prank” came from and what motivation? Yikes!

  22. Derrick from Philly says

    “I thought Somoans were Girl Scout cookies.”

    I’m sorry, Frau Beaverhausen. I don’t know how to use spell check when I’m already in the process of trying to post a comment.

    My performance on this thread will torment me forever.

  23. jaragon says

    This is a very strange story-a guy who looks like that and is a football player is going to have plenty of REAL life girls throwing their panties his way…

  24. antb says

    Football players are not even close to every gay man’s wet dream. Give me a soccer body or a rugby body any day. Most of the [american] footballers bodies, i find just kind of gross or really boring.

  25. Marty says

    I’m so slow, I heard this, this morning and didn’t even think gay, but it makes sense. How could a guy have a long relationship with someone he never met? Why would he lie about meeting her? A sick joke you never webcammed? He must be in on it and made up this whole “Trick” thing.

  26. Stefan says

    I’d believe that he was angling for Heisman sympathy if the “relationship” hadn’t started back in 2009 and the father hadn’t “met” her a couple years ago. Seriously–the only reason you have a fake girlfriend that long is to appear macho and avoid pressure to screw around or to cover for being gay. In either case, he’s pretty weak for not being able to stand up for his true self (whether devoutly Mormon or homosexual…or both).

  27. Kim says

    I hope he doesn’t let the stress off this controversy overwhelm him and cause him to harm himself.This story was covered on every daytime talked show,most gossip sites,entertaiment shows,radio sports shows…I read this may effect history draft standing.If he comes out I wonder what round he would be drafted.People are comparing him to Lance Armstrong for being a liar.Personally I m worried about this guy.

  28. jeremyrain says

    I don’t buy the “gay” thing. Obviously he created this fabrication to draw attention when he was up to Heisman. I’m still in the closet to my family, and whenever they asked me about any girl that I dated, I usually gave them very vague details about her. Because I’m always afraid if I say too much about that “imagine girl”, someday I’m gonna trip on my own words. This guy did the opposite, even the story of his girlfriend’s leukemia got on national TV. I don’t think that’s a typical behavior of a “closeted case”.

  29. andrew says

    @Kim: I was happy to read your good hearted post. They are so rare on this site. Too often the posts on Towleroad are mean spirited, bitchy, jealous, negative and lacking in joy and hope. They are often a replay of that old movie “Boys In The Band”.

  30. HereinDC says

    Lordy……I’ve never ever heard or saw of this guy before today. I had the volume down on my tv this morning when his face popped up on the CBS Morning Show. Ding ding ding….my gaydar went off.

    Nuff Said

  31. Geoff says

    Sorry. Watched the clip. My gaydar went off so strong that I shot backwards into the wall, banged my head, which scared the cat – who knocked over a lamp.

  32. Thomas Cardellino says

    Gigi’s video link REALLY merits your attention if you have EVER met a gay man lying from the closet before. Unmistakably and oh so sadly gay, poor dope. Then again, trying to lift the tonnage of Catholicism, Mormonism and the dissonance of personally being expert in a sport that revels in its overwhelming majority of successful homophobes, amongst both players and their fans, well, that’s some crushing baggage to carry. Really check out Gigi’s link here:

  33. emjayay says

    Besides being Mormon, going to a Catholic University, and being on the football team, no one has mentioned being of Samoan background, which I’m guessing is just as homophobic a culture as all those others. It is amazing to finally see the YouTube interview where he oh so sincerely discusses his imaginary girlfriend, how she put the Heavenly Father first, how she wrote him all those letters, etc. Rather fascinating whatever the truth is.

  34. Thomas Cardellino says

    You know, the more I think about this hoax, the more of a tragic figure this young guy becomes to me. I was only ten years old when the only grandparent I ever knew, my Dad’s mother, died. 49 years later, I can still remember that day and the loss I felt on a daily basis for months afterward until her memory would come back to me just as fully but, as is the way of the world, less frequently. For this young guy to have lied and aligned the lie of a false death with the real death of his Mormon Samoan grandmother is a very big “tell” about his sense of self-value and what he considered “worthy” of himself. As an Italian/Irish Roman Catholic by birth and upbringing, I know how disastrous an ethnic episode the loss of a Matriarch can be. Not to say that “Downton Abbey” folks don’t grieve their losses deeply, but Episcopalians (let’s say, for example) have always seemed to me far more stoic in the face of death than many other ethnicities who might be more emotionally free to express in public their losses. Guess I’m treading on some toes unintentionally, but it’s because I just feel compelled to wrap my brain around what might forever be a conundrum. One thing is for sure, though. It is a very sad statement about what this young guy thought necessary to reach even a false level of comfort that at least part of his soul just had to know would come under a very harsh light of criticism some day. After all, he was intellectually gifted enough to be playing for Notre Dame, just not emotionally mature enough to handle the pressure like an adult.

  35. anon says

    How about all the mental health rumors? This story doesn’t make much sense at all. I could see a weak attempt at some sympathetic PR, but a gay cover story this obvious would be bizarre. What we need is some honesty from the participants, though, frankly, it not all that interesting.

  36. MJ says

    Well, it only took me five times, but I think I finally got the gist of what Andrew Belonsky was summarizing. Whew!

    Anyway, does any of this matter? Sounds like a LOT of wishful thinking about Manti Te’o.

    By the way, Samoan men are very sweet and good-hearted. Should any of you ever be so lucky to have a Samoan boyfriend, cherish him.

  37. shawnthesheep says

    Yeah, this story screams gay to me. When I was in high school, I had an older boyfriend who lived about 60 miles away. This was in the days before twitter, but I told everyone that I ad a girlfriend. I used alot of the personal details about my boyfriend to make the lie easier to keep straight. Sounds like just what Te’o did. Ronaiah was in a car accident, so Kekua was in one, etc. Sounds like they decided to kill the fake girlfriend off because the lie was getting just too complicated. So she conveniently died on the same day as his grandmother, when he would already be grieving and wouldn’t have to fake being sad about the fake girlfriend.

    The notion that Te’o was the victim of an elaborate hoax does not ring true at all. He supposedly dated her for three years and told numerous media outlets that he met her after a football game at Stanford, not online.

    So three years in an online relationship and not one video chat? Not one meeting? That does not ring true at all.

  38. J.D. says

    You know you’re a sex addict when you always want Samoa. Anyway — Magic 8 Ball says G.A.Y. Such aggressive measures to mislead the public at large are an abusive psychological game, and deserve a dose of harsh reality in return, unless you are a professional actor actually playing an actual fictional character who is not gay. This strapping hunk of Lu’au should share a reality show and a fragrance with Jodie Foster tout de suite, n’est-ce pas?

  39. DC Arnold says

    I certainly made sure my fictictious girlfriend was an ocean away so she could write me a dear john letter but boners in a communal shower gave me away.

  40. says

    If he did lie, why are people making him out to be gay? So homophobic our society is.

    If a man is not interested in a women- ANY WOMEN- he is called…gay.

    If a man has attitude or doesn’t always act laid back..he’s called gay.

    If a man lies an epic lie like this about a fake girlfriend with cancer….he must be gay.

    Notice a pattern here? Anytime a man isn’t doing teh right thing, he must be “one of them gays”

    Sad that even gay people don’t have the perceptive capablity to see the correlation between negative action always being associated to a gay man.

  41. johnny says

    Yikes, totally got a samoanesque Michael Jackson vibe from that clip.

    A giant, chartreuse sequin-covered tote bag fell out of his mouth on word one.

    Get me a tissue, Tito.

  42. HereinDC says

    In my college days….I too….when pressed….would say I was kissing girls….and said I went out on dates….
    But I knew I liked boys.

    This is just the 2013 version of what I did….he used the internet as his foil.

  43. Duration & Convexity says

    nothing hot about a bat sh-t crazy thug who would fabricate such a lie. but because he’s “hetero” everyone on here loves him. sad bunch

  44. djcchicago says

    If he was duped, it doesn’t say much for the critical thinking skills Notre Dame is supposed to be teaching in the first 2 years of university. Maybe he was allowed to skip these classes?

  45. says

    Whatever is going on I hope this guy works things out.
    If all of this turns out to be just cover, then think of the turmoil and deep insecurity he must have been going through.

    It just shows the pervasive stigma and crushing power of homophobia.
    He needs to know “it gets better”…….if he is gay.

  46. MickyFlip says

    This whole thing seems to have grown out of epic proportions. Sounds more political in regards to the Heisman Trophy, if anything. Not convinced he’s gay. More like taken for a ride. If he is indeed ‘family’. More power to him. But, hey, at least now we all know who he is. Now I can’t wait till this all dies down.

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