Former A-League player Andy Brennan has reportedly become the first Aussie male soccer player to come out as gay, opening up about the mental burden he felt hiding his sexuality.
The 26-year-old played for the Newcastle Jets A-League team in 2016 and now plays for the Green Gully Soccer Club in Melbourne.
Brennan told the Herald Sun when he told a close friend about his sexuality last November, it was a huge weight off his shoulders.
“Six months ago I thought about it a lot, tried to hide it and push it aside because of the way I thought it would be perceived by many,” he told the Herald Sun.
“You’ve got to go through stages to understand that you can’t keep living this, I suppose, lie to yourself that one day you’re going to be happy if you want a family.
“It got to the point where I couldn’t waste any more time being in relationships that I wasn’t comfortable in and wouldn’t come to anything.
“You’ve got to realise that’s who you are and you’ve just got to be who you are.
“It’s been a big lift off my shoulders and I can just focus on playing football.”
Brennan said there is a stigma within sport that has prevented others revealing their true sexuality for fear of not being accepted.
“Statistically speaking, people playing sport, whether it would be football or AFL or any sport, you’d think there were more who would be gay,” he said.
“There is a bit of stigma within the sport and if people are going through what I went through, [they may think] it’s not okay because of not being accepted.
“This isn’t a call for those people to come out and tell everyone who they are. They shouldn’t have to, shouldn’t need to.
“I did it this way because this is what is going to make me most comfortable, being open and honest with who I am.
“From there [if] people — be it teenagers, A-League or AFL players — see inspiration and end up telling one person, that can really open them up and make them feel much better.
“If there’s people who’ve had that burden, especially playing sport and feel like they can’t be who they are in a professional or amateur environment, it’s vital they see others accepted.
“My Gully teammates and coaches have been great.”
In a post on Instagram, Brennan wrote, “It’s taken me years to get comfortable saying this – I’m gay.
“I was scared it would affect my friendships, my teammates, and my family.
“But the support of the people around me has been so great and helped me get to the final step; being completely open.
“Being open is the best way for me to feel most comfortable and be myself. So… carry on!”
View this post on Instagram
It’s taken me years to get comfortable saying this – I’m gay. I was scared it would affect my friendships, my teammates, and my family. But the support of the people around me has been so great and helped me get to the final step; being completely open. Being open is the best way for me to feel most comfortable and be myself. So… carry on! ?? #owlyagoing