Zander Murray has become the first current professional footballer in Scotland to come out as gay, and has explained why it’s still so necessary.
The Gala Fairydean Rovers forward discussed hiding his sexuality for years and how it affected him during a chat on his club’s website.
The 30-year-old explained he now “feels like the weight of the world is now off my shoulders” after coming out.
“I want to help other players who are struggling with this as it isn’t easy for men, especially footballers, to deal with,” Murray said.
“It can be difficult and you can feel very alone. I knew I was different for many years but with other people in the game coming out, it’s been amazing.
“In recent years [Blackpool player] Jake Daniels has come out, and then Craig Napier and Lloyd Wilson, who are both referees, have done the same,” Murray added.
“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.”
“I was on holiday recently at a Pride event. I have always been that closeted never to go to these things, but I loved it,” he said.
“The vibe was brilliant and everyone was just being free and happy, and it was great to just be me.
“Then I thought to myself, what am I doing? This is playing havoc with my life.
“At that moment, I thought enough is enough. I put a post on my social media telling folk I was gay.”
Zander Murray praises ‘diversity and openness’ of women’s football
Zander Murray is the first openly gay footballer to play in the Scottish leagues since Justin Fashanu in 1990s.
Murray said he hopes his decision can help other closeted Scottish players, some of whom he’s since spoken to.
“Of course there are gay footballers in our game. I’ve had lots of players get in touch saying they have read my post and they can’t believe how strong I am by doing this.
“Hopefully the [Scottish Football Association] can work with other leagues and partners and look at support and drive how we help other players.
“That support is greatly needed in the men’s game.
“Women’s football is another ball game. They are completely diverse and open, and this is something the men’s game should aspire to be.”
‘Gay male footballers need role models’
After Murray’s big announcement, the footballer took to Twitter to respond to a football fan who tried to downplay his news.
They tweeted, “I don’t get why Zander Murray has to come out as gay. Why not continue to play football which he has done for years before. The vast majority of people don’t care what he is just score goals to help their team win.”
But Murray hit back with a list of bullet points, writing, “We are not the vast majority, gay male footballers in the UK need role models, majority are terrified to come out to friends/ family/ teammates (trust me, a few have reached out already!)
“To the younger generation, they can now see happy, thriving gay men in [and] around football.
“Eventually we will get to a place where this does not make news. I want to be part of the solution! Watch this space in the near future.”
Justin Fashanu was first British footballer to come out
While Murray is the first top Scottish player to come out, English footballer Justin Fashanu played for Scottish clubs in the mid-1990s after he’d already come out as gay.
Fashanu was the first British footballer to come out as gay, but tragically died by suicide due to experiences with the media and homophobia at the time.
AIDSmap executive director Matthew Hodson wrote on Twitter, “Justin Fashanu was Britain’s first openly gay footballer. He was beautiful and talented. I knew him (we had a brief thing).
“He was hounded by the press and crowds and took his life at 37.
“I love to see Zander Murray and Jake Daniels change the story for gay men in football.”
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