Hours before the pro-soccer team Minnesota United played their Pride Night game against FC Dallas, midfielder Collin Martin came out in a tweet. (Now that’s how you celebrate Pride Night!) Thanks to the gay soccer player coming out, the total number of out professional sports players in the United States is now — drumroll, please — one.
Collin Martin wrote a brief coming out essay, describing the kindness he’s received from his teammates. Martin wrote, “I have been out as a gay man for many years to my family and friends and this includes my teammates. … I have received only kindness and acceptance from everyone in Major League Soccer (MLS) and that has made the decision to come out publicly that much easier.”
Martin added, “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.”
Collin Martin is only the second openly gay soccer player in MLS history. The first was Robbie Rogers who came out in 2013. But Rogers retired last year. Until Martin came out today, there were zero openly gay professional athletes currently playing on American teams.
Happily, Collin Martin received an outpouring of support on his tweet. Robbie Rogers himself even tweeted, writing “Love this! So so inspiring thank you Colin! Good luck this season, except against [Rogers’ former team] the Los Angeles Galaxy.”
Other teams, including Toronto, Orlando, San Jose and Martin’s former team D.C. United also sent their support. Our favorite response, however, was from MLS Watercolorist, who wrote “Happy Pride from Seattle, Collin!” and sent this great watercolor:
Homophobia in pro-sports has long discouraged for LGBTQ athletes from ever coming out. In fact, most recently the National Football League (NFL) was accused of asking recruits if they are gay, a question that reveals the league’s poor understanding of homophobia, even if such questions are technically legal to ask.