Andy Brennan in May became the first Australian male pro soccer player to come out as gay. Nearly three months later, he has zero regrets.
“The reaction has been amazing,” Brennan told the Daily Telegraph. “I haven’t had one negative comment. That was something I feared a lot with everyone I told, but everyone — teammates, family, friends — has been amazing.
“I’ve had no problems with opposition fans either, everyone’s been really supportive. The way it’s affected my life has been only positive, it’s been so much better.”
This is how it has been in every instance of someone coming out in sports as gay, lesbian or bi since we’ve been publishing Outsports (trans athletes, especially women, sadly often get negative reactions along with the positive). And it has long made us wonder why more people don’t take the plunge.
Brennan, 26, said the temptation to stay closeted stems from society.
“It’s all created by the environment you’re in,” he said. “I pushed it away because I didn’t think it was normal, and thought people would judge me. And like I wouldn’t be able to play football and be friends with the same people. I thought it would change my life completely.”
The key here is people coming out willingly; people who are outed can face a very different reaction.
Brennan also addressed the person who set up a Twitter account saying he was a closeted gay pro English soccer player ready to come out. On the announced coming out day, the person got cold feet and deleted the account, leaving many to wonder if it was all a hoax. Brennan said it doesn’t matter.
“I personally hope it isn’t a hoax, but even if it is I think you just focus on the positives,” he said. “The positive energy it created with all the supportive reactions from people was more important than anything negative, and that’s what you have to focus on — otherwise you let the negativity win.”
It’s important to highlight Brennan’s positive coming out story because we need more of them. Visibility remains vital and only by people like Brennan speaking out will a critical mass of out LGBTQ sports people be achieved.