Former professional soccer player Adam McCabe has shared his coming-out story with Meanwhiler in a powerful first-person essay. In the piece, McCabe talks about being gay and playing soccer across three continents.
McCabe played semi-pro and professional soccer in England, Thailand and Slovakia. He played college soccer at Vassar College. He grew up in Tallahassee, Fla., and played at Maclay School in his hometown. He is also a licensed coach in the Football Association in England.
Among the many powerful themes McCabe addressed in his piece was the importance of overt inclusion by sports teams and leagues, and the impact it has on LGBT athletes. He used Major League Soccer’s Portland Timbers as a shining example of inclusion.
For example, an openly gay soccer player would probably love the possibility to play for a team like the Portland Timbers in the MLS. At every single game you can see multiple LGBTQ flags spread throughout the crowd. I know that Portland is a very progressive city in terms of LGBTQ rights and acceptance. However, not all can be said for all soccer clubs. I know my experience in England and especially Slovakia, was different to that of the Portland Timbers.
Why is McCabe sharing his personal story now? The same reason we hear from most athletes and coaches who contact Outsports to tell their stories: He just wants to help other athletes find their courage to be themselves.
This amazing game has taken me to four continents, allowed me to meet all types of people, and has enabled me to achieve my dreams of playing at the highest levels. Along the way, I never felt whole. This was a huge factor of why I came back to Atlanta and took a break from soccer. I have grown and changed so much since my move back and now I am at a place to help other LGBTQ athletes who may be struggling. ...
If I can help at least one individual who needs guidance, support, or even a friend to speak with, I’m here.
It’s what we call “the domino effect” in action.
As we hear from so many LGBT athletes struggling with their true selves (somehow most straight people, on the flip side, find a way to have romantic relationships), McCabe threw himself into sports instead of facing his true self.
Soccer was the most important thing; it was all that I thought about. I lived, breathed, ate and slept soccer. And I was not going to let anything, like a relationship or my sexuality, get in the way of my goals and dreams.
McCabe also talked about the struggles he felt in the locker room. As we’ve said many times before, this doesn’t just come from homophobia but the constant talk of “women, sex, and bragging rights.”
The language that is used during practice, in the locker room, and on the pitch is extremely masculine and at times vulgar. I have heard teammates use homophobic language both in the soccer realm and in daily life.An ex-professional football player “out”
Straight athletes take notice: Your constant conversations about these straight-dude topics — like sexual conquests of women — alienate gay athletes like McCabe. If you need a translation of that: It makes you lose matches.
Be sure to read McCabe’s entire piece on Meanwhiler. And, of course, welcome him to the fast-growing family of publicly out LGBT athletes and coaches.