On Friday, the midfielder for Minnesota United, Collin Martin, 23, publicly came out as gay. Martin has been out among his friends and family for years, so when he announced his news during the team’s gay pride night, his teammates showed unfailing support. Now, Martin is the only openly gay man in Major League Soccer (MLS)
In 2013, Robbie Rogers paved the way for gay athletes when he came out as the first openly gay athlete in all US professional sports. In an Instagram post, Rogers said, “And sadly, at some point, the scared kid inside me decided that pursuing my dream meant sacrificing a part of myself and hiding my sexuality from the world instead of embracing it.”
Rogers claimed that he did not come out until his retirement because he was scared of how the media, fans, players, and coaches would react. He thought it might change the game for him.
In 2016, the founder of the world’s first gay soccer club, Jeff Kaufman, told NBC News, “At a young age it’s beaten into kids that gay and sports don’t line up and that’s a terrible stereotype that has transcended the generations.”
Three months following Rogers’ retirement, he signed with LA Galaxy and he claimed the team accepted him from the moment he started. This response encouraged other athletes to come out shortly after, such as NBA player, Jason Collins.
While Rogers suffered from a lack of national support for gay relationships as the US government had not yet legalized gay marriage, Martin must feel supported as the US is celebrating LGBTQ Pride month.
Martin told ESPN, “As we celebrate Pride night, I want to thank my teammates for their unconditional support for who I am. In light of my experience as a professional athlete, I want to take this moment to encourage others who play sports professionally or otherwise to have confidence that sport will welcome them wholeheartedly. June is Pride month, and I am proud to be playing for Pride, and to be playing as an out gay man.”
This is Martin’s sixth season as a major league soccer player and fourth season with Minnesota United. During Minnesota United’s Pride night, the team wore jerseys with rainbow-colored numbers in support of Martin and the LGBTQ community.
Minnesota lost the match to FC Dallas 0-1 on Friday night, but Martin won endless support and love from fans.
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