When Minnesota United soccer player Collin Martin publicly announced on Friday he was gay, he didn’t get to play in that night’s game, which happened to be the team’s Pride night. Wednesday, appropriately Independence Day, Martin finally got into a game and the home crowd at TCF Bank Stadium responded with a standing ovation.
Martin, 23, entered the game against Toronto in the 79th minute with some of the 20,559 fans waving rainbow pride Minnesota FC scarves. In addition to the crowd’s ovation, Martin was greeted by his teammates on the field after the Loons’ 4-3 win over Toronto, said Jeff Rueter of the Athletic.
With his appearance, Martin joins Robbie Rogers (MLS/Los Angeles Galaxy 2013) and Jason Collins (NBA/Brooklyn Nets 2014) as the only openly gay men to play in a regular season game in an American pro sports league. Michael Sam played in four preseason games with the NFL’s St. Louis Rams in 2014, but was not on the regular season roster.
Martin has already made a difference in one person’s life by coming out. In an interview with Reuter, he said: “A kid messaged me saying he was at [last Friday’s] game after seeing my tweet, and during the game he came out to his parents because of that tweet. That was pretty crazy. He said it went well, which is great.”
Martin had his coming out last Friday and his first action as an openly gay player Wednesday. He’ll never have to do either again.