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English soccer player talks about being gay and the support she’s found

Gilly Flaherty plays for England’s national team and professionally for West Ham United.

2016 SheBelieves Cup - Germany v England
Gilly Flaherty represents England internationally and plays professionally for West Ham United.
Photo by Frederick Breedon/Getty Images

Gilly Flaherty, a professional soccer player in England who plays for the English women’s national team, is talking publicly about being a gay athlete in celebration of the Rainbow Laces campaign.

“Everybody does it, everybody puts the laces on, or the captains wear the rainbow color armbands,” Flaherty said in a video. “I think it’s a chance for players to embrace who they are and embrace their teammates if they are gay.”

Flaherty took to Twitter earlier this week to reinforce her message of being out and supporting Rainbow Laces:

Flaherty said she has found overwhelming support as an out athlete and doesn’t put much credence in the nonsense of the minority of people who find fault with her for being her true self.

“At times I’ve put Instagram posts up and someone might have made a comment on it about lesbians or whatever. But I just laugh because I just think, ‘you’re one of the minority in that sense.’ Everyone else on my Instagram loves me for who I am.”

Powerful perspective from Flaherty.

Talking about the difficulty of coming out, Flaherty reflected something we’ve said for many years: Telling your parents can be a lot harder than telling your teammates. So many people spend so much time trying to figure out how to “change sports culture” to make it more accepting. We’ve long felt sports culture has changed, but it’s fear of things like telling parents that keeps many athletes from being their true selves.

It’s great to see Flaherty speaking up in English soccer, where so few other LGBTQ athletes have come out publicly. And it’s wonderful to see her, like so many other out athletes in so many different sports, finding acceptance.

Check out the two-minute video of her talking about being an out athlete on the West Ham Web site.

You can follow Gilly Flaherty on Twitter @gilly_flaherty, or on Instagram @gilly_flaherty.