England’s most prominent publicly out gay soccer player, Liam Davis, is talking this week about the reception he’s gotten in soccer, and it couldn’t be more glowing.
Davis has been publicly out for almost four years, and he has talked openly about the overwhelmingly positive reception he’s received in his sport. And he’s now asking other gay athletes to be themselves and not “overthink” it.
“My advice to a young gay footballer at any level or any standard is just to be themselves,” said Davis. “Don’t over-worry and overthink things. I don’t think it will be as big an issue as you think. “I never once thought about football when I came out. It was just a case of: this is who I am and I think this is the time to tell people who I am.”
With the media’s constant stream of articles talking about the “struggles” of gay athletes and the “hurdles” they have to face, it’s no wonder gay athletes “overthink” the possible negative repercussions instead of all the positive results of coming out, whether it’s privately or publicly.
Davis did say that he has heard “a couple” of negative comments from opposing players, but that his teammates have had his back every time. And frankly, all athletes hear negative things from their opponents.
We’ve heard this line of thinking before, that gay athletes are afraid they might be called gay slurs on the pitch or by the fans. I remember the one time a straight opponent called me a “faggot” on the field. It actually focused me, and I had a fantastic game against him after that. My teammates also rallied around me and admonished him.
Davis’ personal account reflects similar experiences.
The soccer player has consistently said over the years that his being out as a gay man in sport has been no issue. We hope gay athletes are listening.