Thomas Beattie Comes Out as Gay, Becoming the 2nd Pro Soccer Player in the U.K.
English former professional soccer player, Thomas Beattie, came out as gay in a recent story for ESPN, and opened up even more about his journey in an interview with The Advocate.
Thomas is the third male professional player in British sports history to come out after Justin Fashanu in 1990 and Robbie Rogers in 2013, and only the second professional soccer player from the United Kingdom to come out, reports The Advocate.
“I never thought about coming out whilst playing,” he explained to the LGBTQ+ outlet. “I literally felt like I had to sacrifice one of the two: who I am, or the sport I loved before I could remember. I used football as a form of escapism and in many ways it saved me, until I reached the point in life where there was some personal growth. I was standing still on that front. Society [told] me masculinity is linked to sexuality and so being an athlete playing a physical sport felt like a huge contradiction.”
“It’s still a new and current process for me to be honest,” he added of being out. “I told close friends and family three months ago, which was when I decided to embark on the journey of speaking openly about it. As an athlete it was something that was unspoken about, which is why I want to share my story in hopes that there will eventually be more support for people in a similar situation. I recently started to tell some of my old team mates who have been amazing and treated me not a single ounce differently. They know I’m the same lad I was 10 minutes before telling them so that’s been refreshing.”
Thomas explained that he hopes his story can inspire the next generation of gay athletes.
“I hope to be a positive example for players and also gay sports fans,” he said. “Mentally there are often many challenges associated with self acceptance and it can be a huge weight to carry. I hope to represent the LGBTQ+ community to the best of my ability and I think the more people involved in sport who are from that community, the more gay sports fans will resonate and feel connected. Being gay can often leave you feeling lonely and singled out, but hopefully as more players come out, there will be more representation at the professional level of sport.”
“Who you are and the things you love to do don’t have to be enemies,” he continued. “I want to be a source of support for anyone who resonates with my story and for the world of sport. I would love to entertain conversations about creating a solid plan to make sport a more inclusive world for all communities. It doesn’t seem like the LGBTQ+ community has much representation in the world of professional football and I hope over time this changes. If I can do anything to assist that process, I hope to do so.”
Thank you for your bravery, Thomas!