Collin Martin agrees with a new study published on Outsports that says male athletes are overwhelmingly accepting of gay teammates. As the only out gay man in American team sports, his validation is noteworthy.

In a new interview with The Advocate, Martin reflects on his experiences since coming two years ago. Earlier this year, Martin’s team, the San Diego Loyal forfeited a game after Martin said an opponent had called him a gay slur. It was a stunning display of solidarity, especially since the forfeit cost San Diego a playoff berth.

In the aftermath of the incident, Martin received an abundance of support. Even Junior Flemmings, the player whom allegedly called Martin the slur, phoned Martin and apologized. Phoenix Rising head coach Rick Schantz told our Cyd Zeigler the episode was an awakening for him.

Martin says the reaction shows how the sports landscape is welcoming to gay athletes.

“My incident and having the coach and players back you up are proof points,” he told the Advocate. “Also, the tremendous support I received online from other players, club executives and others in sports validated the fact that the team will rally behind you.”

Martin publicly came out as gay in 2018, when he played for the Minnesota United. The forward currently plays in the USL Championship.

As we know, normalization comes with visibility. Martin says he’s proud to educate his teammates and serve as their entree into the gay world.

“An athlete shouldn’t feel prohibited from sharing that information,” he said. “They need to give their teammates a chance.”

Earlier this week, researchers published a study of coming-out stories on Outsports that found the men’s sports world is welcoming towards gay athletes. Out of 60 stories sampled from 2016, the researchers found “every athlete described an acceptant and inclusive response from their teammates and, therefore, improved psychological wellbeing.”

Certainly, the Loyal showed their support for Martin. Manager Landon Donovan’s impassioned midfield defense of his openly gay player was touching to see. It showed a soccer legend will fight just as hard for an openly gay player as everybody else on the team.

In other words, it showed gay players belong on his team, and thus, in soccer.

Martin is ready for some company.

“I don’t think there is a better time to come out,” he said. “Frankly, I don’t know what’s holding some of these athletes back from coming out. Maybe they just want to keep that side of them private. I’m not sure, but there’s not a better time to come out for sure.”