30-year-old Matt Morton, the self-described “typical alpha-male footballer” player/manager of Thetford Town in UK football, celebrated National Coming Out Day this year by coming out as gay himself.
In an interview with SkySports, Morton reveals that he first began to accept his sexuality in 2018, when, after years of dating women, he felt something connect with another man.
“It felt very surreal to me, but at the same time it felt very natural,” Morton says. “I didn’t have that Disney romance at any point with any of the girls that I dated and therefore everything else around me became more important. All of my time went into football, work and friends, and therefore there was no time left. That was a good excuse for me growing up.”
Slowly, over a period of years, Morton began to come out to the people closest to him. When it came to coming out to his parents, things got difficult.
“It didn’t come from a place of hatred,” Morton says of his folks’ initial horror, “it came from a place of ignorance. I can only imagine that for my dad – for a short period of time – it was like a little part of his world fell apart. We didn’t talk for a few weeks and that was my decision. It was the right thing to do, even though I know that it hurt him a lot. But that might have also played a big part in his willingness to be educated around it.”
“It’s important to say that he’s always been fine with any gay people he’s met,” Morton then adds. “It’s just that when it’s your own son telling you after however many years… I felt that he was disappointed in me. He looked at me in a different way – but that got resolved really quickly.”
The angst Morton had to confront in coming out to his parents also fueled a new fear: how would his teammates react? For Morton though, the worst was already behind him.
“I thought there was a chance of [a homophobic reaction]- I just wasn’t concerned about it any longer,” he explains. “And I’m pleased to say that nobody’s treated me differently. What’s also important I think is not to treat yourself any differently, otherwise people walk on eggshells and you don’t want that either. You want everything to be as it was before and for me, it absolutely is.”
Ultimately, Morton says he came out to help visibility and awareness for LGBTQ people in sports. “The way I’d look at it is, if you’ve got people you care about in your life – such as your brothers and sisters, or other young family – would you want them growing up in the same world you grew up in, or would you want to help make that world better?”
“All I can say,” he adds, “from my experience, is that I wish I’d done it as soon as I knew, because it brings everything forward a year and you always want to get time back, I guess. I wish I’d realized it about myself 10 years earlier than I did, or even longer.”
Better late than never, Matt.