We spotlight a lot of college and high school athletes on our site and because of that, many of our coming out stories tend to skew young.
Which is what makes British soccer player-manager Matt Morton’s coming out story for SkySports stand out. Not only was Morton revealing that he was gay as an active player for Thetford Town, he also began his coming out process at age 30.
With this in mind, Morton’s journey to knowing his true self hits some familiar notes for those of us who came out a bit later. As Morton revealed to SkySports’s Jon Holmes, he had dated women throughout his 20s but something always felt a bit off:
“I didn’t have that Disney romance at any point with any of the girls that I dated and therefore, everything else around me became more important. All of my time went into football, work, and friends and therefore, there was no time left.”
Using work as a distraction can be part of life in the closet. You know something is off when romance takes a back seat to the dribbling through cones drill.
Fortunately, two years ago, Morton realized he was attracted to a guy he’d met, a feeling he described as “very surreal... but at the same time, it felt very natural.” He then began a nerve wracking process: revealing the truth to the people who knew him best.
Morton began by telling friends he was dating a man and after receiving their acceptance, moved on to his family. His parents took some time to get used to the news but eventually both affirmed their love. Finally, Morton came out publicly on social media.
Looking back, Morton’s feelings on his process are also recognizable: “I wish I’d done it as soon as I knew, because it brings everything forward a year and you always want to get time back, I guess. I wish I’d realized it about myself ten years earlier than I did or even longer.”
Despite that feeling, Morton acknowledged that he was still invigorated by going public with his story. He explained to Outsports, “The reaction has been incredible, hundreds of thousands of comments, hundreds of messages, and everything I’ve seen has been positive.”
His response indicates one of the truisms of being true to yourself: as long as you get there, it’s never too late.
If you are an out LGBTQ person in sports and want to tell your story, email Jim Buzinski (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Check out our archive of coming out stories.
If you’re an LGBTQ person in sports looking to connect with others in the community, head over to GO! Space to meet and interact with other LGBTQ athletes, or to Equality Coaching Alliance to find other coaches, administrators and other non-athletes in sports.