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A professional soccer player in Scotland has come out as gay. Striker Zander Murray, 30, plays for Gala Fairydean Rovers. The team plays in the fifth tier of Scottish football.
Murray told Pride of the Terraces he’d been coming out to family and friends since April 2021, but not to anyone in the football world.
However, he was prompted to do so after attending his first Pride event. It was during a vacation to Benidorm, Spain.
“I decided to do it when I went to my first Pride event,” he said. “I don’t usually get to go to Pride because I’m playing football at the weekend, but I was in Benidorm of all places and it was absolutely fantastic. My friend took a photo and asked if she could put it on social media, and usually I couldn’t do that.
“I had come out to everyone apart from football, they were the only people that didn’t know.
“I thought about it, and as we were walking back to the hotel I realized I could die tomorrow living a lie. I would just be a number, because so many people will have lived closeted. I was on the veranda, and I put a post on Facebook and that was it.”
— STV News (@STVNews) September 18, 2022
Remembering Justin Fashanu
Zander Murray is the first out gay, male player in Scottish football (which has separate leagues to English soccer) since Justin Fashanu played with Airdrie and Hearts in the mid-1990s.
English player Fashanu was the first male soccer player in the UK to come out. He did so in 1990 and faced abuse from fans on the terraces. He died by suicide in 1998.
Murray told his club’s website, “It feels like the weight of the world is now off my shoulders.
“The lads at the club have been so supportive. Before coming out, you think people will turn against you and you think the worst – I have been blown away by the support.”
He added that staying in the closet was, “playing havoc with my life”. He said, “I also want to help other players who are struggling with this as it isn’t easy for men, especially footballers to deal with.”
❤️⚫️ Gala Fairydean Rovers striker Zander Murray has announced he is gay – making him the first Scottish senior player to do so.
In an interview with the club, Murray said he wants to “help” other players who are struggling about opening up.https://t.co/SE0pZNixFh
— Gala Fairydean Rovers (@fairydeanrovers) September 16, 2022
Murray follows in the footsteps of teenager Jake Daniels, who plays for the Blackpool FC in the north of England. Daniels came out in May, becoming the first professional male soccer player to do so since Fashanu.
Zander Murray: “Gay male footballers need role models”
Murray told Pride of the Terraces, “I’m feeling good, very good. There’s zero hiding anymore, just me and my organic self that I should have been a long time ago. I’m not looking back anymore, so I’m very happy to get the word out there and support ending the stigma.”
Many offered their congratulations on social media. Predictably, some questioned why he felt the need to come out. Murray took to Twitter to explain why it’s important to go public with his sexuality.
— Zander Murray (@ZanderMurray) September 17, 2022
Among the reasons he listed, he said, “Gay male footballers in the UK need role models.
“Majority are terrified to come out to friends/family/teammates (trust me a few have reached out already!). We need to break that fear, as the majority are correct… in that a lot of public don’t care!”
“Eventually we will get to a place where this does not make news.”
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