Soccer Star Emerges from the Closet
David Testo, 30, who has played for the Montreal Impact and the Vancouver Whitecaps, recently announced that he is gay, according to the CBC. He says, however, he regrets not going public until now.
"It's hard, like living the life of a professional athlete and being gay is incredibly hard," the athlete told the media. "It's like carrying around a secret, you know, and carrying around luggage and just never being allowed to be yourself."
Even though Testo's friends, family and teammates knew his sexual orientation, he still didn't feel comfortable coming out. In 2009, he earned the most valuable player award and says he was upset that he didn't thank his partner in his acceptance speech, the news source reported.
There have been a number of athletes who have publicly come out as well. Earlier this year, cricket star Steven Davies announced his sexual orientation, reported a March 2, 2011, Edge article. In 2009, rugby superstar Gareth Thomas made headlines when he publicly announced his orientation. Like Testo, Gareth Thomas said that hiding his sexuality made his life extremely difficult; constantly feeling guilty towards his marriage and sending him into depression, the AP states.
"I've been through all sorts of emotions with this, tears, anger and absolute despair," Thomas said. "I wasn't sure if I ever wanted to let people know and, to be honest, I feel anxious about people's reactions. It's been really tough for me, hiding who I really am, and I don't want it to be like that for the next young person who wants to play rugby, or some frightened young kid."
Thankfully, many of the athletes' peers have been supportive and encouraging towards gay sports stars. In 2010, an article by EDGE it was reported that German soccer player Mario Gomez called out to sports stars that may be in the closet. He said, "They would play as if they had been liberated," and "being gay should no longer be a taboo topic."
A Sep. 1, 2011, article by EDGE stated that Philipp Lahm, a captain of a German soccer team wrote in his memoir that gay players should not come out of the closet unless they want to become victims of hate crimes by homophobic fans.
"For [a gay player] who does [come out], it would be very difficult," Lahm told German magazine Bunte. "An openly gay footballer would be exposed to abusive comments."
"I would not advise any gay professional footballer to come out," Lahm wrote in his memoir, "The Subtle Difference." "I would fear that he could end up like Justin Fashanu who, after he outed himself, was driven into such a corner that he ended up committing suicide."
But his courageous announcement was met with such opposition that he took his own life a few years later. In 1997, Marcus Urban, a German soccer player, lost his status as a professional athlete for coming out, according to EDGE.