Zander Murray

Out Scottish soccer star Zander Murray is being celebrated for his triumphs on and off the pitch.

Murray, who’s believed to be the first senior Scottish male soccer player to publicly come out as gay, was honored this week at the Scottish Football Museum, where the shirt he wore when he scored his 100th goal was on full display.

Coincidently, it’s also the same jersey that Murray wore when he played his first match as an out gay man.

“So proud to have my shirt that I scored my 100th goal & coincidentally was the strip that I played my first game as an out gay male player,” he wrote on Instagram. “For the thousands of school pupils/young people who walk through these doors. I have no doubt a struggling youth from our community will stumble across this & know they are not alone.”

Murray, 31, plays for Bonnyrigg Rose, a Scottish Professional Football League club in League 2. In addition to scoring more than 100 goals in his career, he holds his previous club’s record for the most goals scored in a single season.

Since publicly coming out last fall, Murray has become one of the most visible out male athletes in the world, using his platform to reach LGBTQ+ youth.

“I’m feeling good, very good,” he said in an interview following his big announcement. “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.”

When faced with questions about why he decided to come out, Murray posted a list of reasons on Twitter. Gay male soccer players needing role models was near the top. (Murray is the first out, gay male player in pro Scottish football since Justin Fashanu played with Airdrie and Hearts in the mid-1990s.)

In fact, Murray has made a habit of sharing anti-gay messages, swatting down homophobes in real time. In a photo posted to Twitter last year, he displayed hate mail across his lap. One pamphlet cover reads “Atheism Annihilated,” while another offers insights on “Homosexuality in Light of the Bible.”

Murray denounced the hate, garnering over 1,500 “likes” in the process.

Just as importantly, Murray also shares positive messages. Two days before posting the aforementioned hate mail, he shared an encouraging note from a young fan.

Earlier this year, Murray took part in an ESPN interview, along with out Scottish referee Lloyd Wilson and out British Olympic swimmer Daniel Jervis. In it, Murray said he decided to come out after celebrating his first Pride event at age 30.

He couldn’t take hiding anymore.

“Something happened, something just hit me, and I went, ‘What am I doing?,'” he said. “I could die tomorrow, and I’ve literally just lived a lie.”

His announcement was part of a mini-rainbow wave in European pro soccer. Jakub Jankto, who plays in Spain’s La Liga and also competes for the Czech Republic on the international stage, publicly came out in February.

Jake Daniels, an 18-year-old soccer player for Blackpool FC, said he was gay last May.

Despite these advancements, there is still a dearth of out male soccer players in Europe and the U.K. Murray explores that question in a new documentary, which is available on BBC Scotland.

“I just hope my story can help empower others to accept themselves,” he wrote in an essay about the project.

Murray is certainly doing his best to get his uplifting message out there. After years of sitting on the Pride sidelines, he just recently led the Edinburgh Pride Parade, becoming the first ever British soccer player to lead a Pride march.

“I can’t fathom people who go against Pride events,” he told The Mirror. “People were just having a joyous, great time. Surely these draconian views of these religious groups, surely they look at that and go ‘wait a minute here, maybe it is real.'”

Murray went on to describe the experience as “brilliant.”

“It just shows how Twitter can present that fake narrative that’s not real life. Because from what I saw it was great,” he said. “And everybody was really great and respectful, which was amazing.”

It’s also been amazing to see Murray live his best gay life. Scroll down for some pics of Murray joyfully embracing his truth…

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