Closet Door Bustdown

Pro footballer Thomas Beattie comes out as gay

Football star Thomas Beattie has come out as gay in a new interview just in time for pride.

The former pro player tells ESPN that he spent years of his career feeling empty and isolated, even when his team scored high-profile wins over the years.

“I’m usually super social, but I was becoming antisocial to avoid scenarios that might expose me,” he recalls. “This was a pattern that had also taken me all over the world. I lay in my bed and stared at the ceiling, feeling like the loneliest lad in the world. Tears welled; a paralyzing flood of emotions engulfed me. My whole body was burning; my arms tingled and my heart raced, like a thousand beats per minute. I prayed that I would wake up and this would all disappear, although deep down I knew I was praying for the wrong thing.”

“I needed to ask for the strength to accept myself,” he realized.

Five years into his career, Beattie has finally done just that. “My name is Thomas Beattie,” he declares. “I’m a brother, son, friend, former professional footballer, entrepreneur and annoyingly competitive lad. I’m a lot of things, and one of them is gay.”

Related: Pro footballer Troy Deeney: “There is a gay or bisexual in every football team”

Beattie also goes on to explain why he felt it would never be possible to come out, even in an era of prominent queer celebrities. “Being gay and having a career in football never felt like an option,” he confesses. “Society told me my masculinity was linked to my sexuality — something we of course know is a false assumption — but I felt as if I couldn’t be a footballer and accept who I was. Everything around me suggested these two worlds were pure enemies, and I had to sacrifice one in order to survive. It doesn’t feel that way in other industries. In music, we love Freddie Mercury and Elton John. It’s accepted in film. Tim Cook, the CEO of Apple, is gay, and these things are all OK.”

“But in football,” he adds, “there’s still fear a gay teammate might disrupt the team environment.” Beattie then goes on to describe the homophobic climate of locker rooms and how life as a single athletics star creates undue pressures to date in the public spotlight.

Ultimately, Beattie wants other closeted athletes to know they’re not alone, and urges compassion and acceptance on the part of the rest of the athletic world. “I hope in time these things no longer have to be spoken about,” Beattie says. “I realize to get to that point, there is a lot of work that still needs to be done. But I would love to be part of that conversation, and have a seat at the table.”

Welcome to the family, Thomas.