An anonymous Twitter account claiming to be a closeted professional football soccer player in the English Football League began tweeting on July 5 that he was preparing to come out of the closet as gay. If true, the player would be the first out gay football player in England. I will be revealing my identity soon, but I am a proud gay man, hoping to break the mould. I am under the age of 23, and today I came out to my family. Soon, I will come out publicly. I have hid my sexuality for far too long.
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I take more energy from that than from trying to prove anyone wrong. But for me, to be gay and fabulous, during Pride month at the World Cup, is nice. When you have out athletes doing that while wearing the Team USA colors, Americans naturally cheer for these athletes. Sports may very well be the way to win over LGBTQ skeptics, but many athletes remain closeted for fear of being rejected by their teams, leagues, fans, or sponsors. During the tournament, two fans were brutally beaten in an anti-gay attack and at least one gay rights activist was arrested for protesting outside the Kremlin. In Qatar, homosexuality is illegal and punishable by up to seven years in prison.
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The team had decided yes. The player had decided the same. It was set. It was going to happen.
Craig F. American football and homosexuality haven't historically gone hand in hand. In my grade school, a football-based game called "Smear the Queer" was popular among boys on the playground. As a former player who lived in a conservative religious town, my ignorance back during my playing days was an accurate reflection of the overall perception of gay males athletes.