Zander Murray, a pro soccer player in Scotland, says the great time he had going to a Pride event this year convinced him to come out as openly gay.
“The reason I have decided to this now is twofold — firstly, I was on holiday recently at a Pride event and I have always been that closeted never to go to these things but I loved it,” Murray, 30, said on the website of his Scottish team, the Gala Fairydean Rovers.
“The vibe was brilliant and everyone was just being free and happy and it was great to just be me. I also want to help other players who are struggling with this as it isn’t easy for men, especially footballers, to deal with.”
Media reports say Murray is the first Scottish senior soccer player to come out as gay. His team plays in the Lowland League.
Murray, like so many LGBTQ athletes who come out, says he was sick of the stress that hiding added to his life and that his worst fears were not realized.
“The lads at the club have been so supportive. I have a really strong bond with everyone at the club and I have been blown away by the support,” said Murray, who holds the club record for goals scored in a season. “Before coming out you think people will turn against you and you think the worst. It’s been lovely how much support I have had.”
Murray also cited the influence that Jake Daniels, an English soccer player, and Craig Napier and Lloyd Wilson, two Scottish soccer referees, have had on him. All three men came out this spring as gay.
Since coming out, Murray has heard from other gay athletes, he told the Sun, proving the power of publicly being out.
“I know there are other gay men playing football in Scotland, in the leagues, and I hope this gives them strength to speak out. A couple of sportsmen have messaged me with support, and I had no idea they were gay.
“I was like ‘bloody hell, wow, brilliant’, and it has helped me to do it myself.”
The fact that Murray felt comfortable coming out on his team’s website shows that things are changing and his statement was met with support from team management. For Murray, it’s a decision he doesn’t regret.
“It can be difficult and you can feel very alone,” he said. “I knew I was different for many years but with other people in the game coming out it’s been amazing.”