Former English professional footballer, Thomas Beattie has announced he is gay.
The 33-year-old, from Goole in Yorkshire, played for Hull City’s youth team then played professionally for more than 10 years in the United States, Canada, and Singapore before sustaining a serious head injury in a game, forcing him to end his playing career early.
Speaking in an interview with Advocate, Beattie admitted that he did not feel comfortable coming out during his professional career.
He said: ‘I never thought about coming out whilst playing. 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.’
‘It’s still a new and current process for me to be honest,’ he says of coming out. ‘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.’
Beattie is only the fourth male footballer – after Justin Fashanu, Thomas Hitzlsperger, and Robbie Rogers, who has played in Britain to come out as gay.