Openly gay former professional soccer player Thomas Hitzlsperger has been sharing his insights on being gay and in the closet at the highest levels of soccer for a couple years. In a recent interview the former Bundesliga and German national-team player talked with about the power of the domino effect and the need for athletes and coaches to come out publicly.

The lack of out people in sports holds is the top reason athletes don’t come out, he said.

“What holds them back is that there aren't many openly gay athletes, particularly footballers,” Hitzlsperger told “And being the number one sport in the world, that means there aren't any role models. There aren't any ‘out' gay footballers to look up to.”

We’ve seen this at Outsports for years. Every time someone comes out publicly, they inspire more people to be their true selves in their private or public lives.

Coming out publicly literally saves lives.

Hitzlsperger also talked about fear of reaction by fans being something that might be holding back athletes. It continues to be a bizarre line of thinking. Athletes are skewered by fans already. If they hear a couple more comments or chant, as professional athletes I have complete confidence in them, their teammates, the team and stadium management to address it well.