Former pro footballer Thomas Beattie came out as gay last June in an interview with ESPN. Now, he’s looking back on the experience and the impact it’s had on his life over the last several months.
Speaking to BBC Sport, the 34-year-old says coming out was “liberating” and that he was “on a high” for two months afterwards, but he probably wouldn’t have done it if he wasn’t retired.
“I wouldn’t have come out if I was still playing now,” Beattie, who was forced to retire in 2015 after a life-threatening head injury, explained. “The reason is the same reason most people aren’t coming out now. We are still trying to redefine what masculinity is and that’s a big issue in sport.”
Beattie went on to say that there is still a lot of homophobia in sports, even if things are getting better.
“Football is a very physical, robust, aggressive sport, so any attack on your masculinity feels like it’s a dig on your ability to perform,” he explained.
“I know some of the most ‘feminine’ straight guys and some of the most ‘masculine’ gay guys and it has no bearing on your ability to perform as a footballer or do anything else.”
Beattie also said he has hope things will improve, noting that “there are more examples of people from the LGBT+ community that aren’t stereotypically what we’ve seen in the media,” which is helping to change people’s perspectives.
He then called on sports leaders to “create a more conducive, accepting environment,” including better guidelines on tolerance of LGBTQ people and stronger repercussions for homophobic behavior.
Beattie added football can “lead the way in influencing” and “be a beacon” for society when it comes to wider LGBTQ acceptance.
Scroll down for more pics from Beattie’s Instagram page…