2014 has just welcomed a brand new athlete to the “out” club of current and former professional sports players.
After retiring from the sport last September, former Germany International and Premiere League football star Thomas Hitzlsperger has now come out in a lengthy interview with German newspaper Die Ziet. Though the interview is completely in German, The Guardian has helped us Americans out and translated a few choice quotes from Hitzlsperger.
“Only in the last few years have I realized that I preferred living together with a man,” Hitzlsperger says. “I was never ashamed of being who I am but it was not always easy to sit on a table with 20 young men and listen to jokes about gays.”
Between controversy over the antigay sentiment in Russia where the 2014 Winter Olympics are being held and 2013′s parade of high-profile athletes coming out, gays in professional sports are a hot topic. Hitzlsperger is coming out partly because he wishes “to further the debate about homosexuality among sports professionals.”
The beefy and athletic Hitzlsperger is definitely easy on the eyes, and The Guardian has done us all a favor and shared a gallery of his greatest hits on the field. Though there will undoubtedly be criticism levied at Hitzlsperger for waiting until after retirement to come out (especially when compared to the still active Robbie Rogers), his presence will make it easier for the out players who will surely follow.