First footballer to "come out" in 30 years
FOMER Hull player Thomas Beattie has come out as gay - the first male English footballer to do so since Justin Fashanu in 1990.
Beattie, from Goole in Yorkshire, said he had felt like he could not announce he was gay while playing for a living.
The 33-year-old played for Hull's youth team and also had spells in the US, Canada and Singapore as part of a career spanning more than 10 years.
Beattie, who now works in business in Singapore, is only the fourth male professional footballer who has played in Britain to come out as gay after Fashanu - who tragically took his own life eight years afterwards - German star Thomas Hitzlsperger and American Robbie Rogers.
Former semi-pro star Liam Davis came out when he was playing back in 2010.
Beattie told the Advocate he felt pressure to keep his sexuality a secret.
"I never thought about coming out while playing," he said
"I literally felt like I had to sacrifice one of the two: who I am, or the sport I loved before I could remember.
"I used football as a form of escapism and in many ways it saved me, until I reached the point in life where there was some personal growth. I was standing still on that front.
"Society (told) me masculinity is linked to sexuality and so being an athlete playing a physical sport felt like a huge contradiction."
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It’s time to share something very personal to me. It’s easier to sit in silence but the real challenge is to speak up and for me it’s time live my truth and hopefully affect change in some way. I am a brother, son, friend and I’m gay. It took me a long time to accept who I am and I hope it is a little easier for the next generation. Thank you to everyone who has supported me through this process and the journey to come, I appreciate you. Thank you to @espn @espnuk for the platform to speak openly.
Beattie joined Hull at 10 but moved to the US at 19 on a soccer scholarship.
He came out to friends and family just three months ago and said he hoped to encourage others to be open.
"It's still a new and current process for me, to be honest," he said.
"I told close friends and family three months ago, which was when I decided to embark on the journey of speaking openly about it.
"As an athlete it was something that was unspoken about, which is why I want to share my story in hopes that there will eventually be more support for people in a similar situation.
"I recently started to tell some of my old teammates who have been amazing and treated me not a single ounce differently.
"They know I'm the same lad I was 10 minutes before telling them so that's been refreshing."
This article was originally published by The Sun and reproduced with permission
Originally published as First footballer to come out in 30 years