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Collin Martin, the 23-year-old midfielder who plays for the Minnesota United soccer team, publicly announced on Friday that he’s gay.
“I have been out as a gay man for many years to my family and friends, and this includes my teammates. I have played Major League Soccer for 6 seasons: 4 seasons with DC United and 2 seasons with Minnesota United. Today, I’m proud that my entire team and the management of Minnesota United know that I am gay.
“I have received only kindness and acceptance from everyone in Major League Soccer and that has made the decision to come out publicly that much easier. As we celebrate Pride night, I want to thank my teammates for their unconditional support for who I am.
In light of my experience as a professional athlete, I want to take this moment to encourage others who play sports professionally or otherwise to have confidence that sport will welcome them wholeheartedly. June is Pride month, and I am proud to be playing for Pride, and to be playing as an out gay man.”
Beyond the statement he released on social media, Martin spoke to Megan Ryan of the Star Tribune about his decision to come out. He’d been out to his family, friends, and teammates for a year, and didn’t think it was a big deal until he realized how little gay representation there is among professional athletes.
“I never thought that was completely important because I thought it’d been done before,” Martin said of publicly coming out. “But, I mean, you look around, there’s still not an out professional athlete in the five major sports in America … right now. So it’s still important.”
Martin is currently the only openly gay player in the five major professional sports, and just one of a few to come out while still active. Pro soccer player Robbie Rogers came out in 2013, and retired in 2017. NBA player Jason Collins came out in 2014, and retired later that year after a stint with the Brooklyn Nets. Football player Michael Sam announced he was gay in 2014, and was drafted by the St. Louis Rams, but never played a game in the NFL. Players from various professional sports have come out after they’ve retired, but it’s still rare for it to happen while they’re still active.
In the Star Tribune, Martin said that he’s the first gay person that some of his teammates have ever known. Since he came out to them last year, he’s relished the chances he’s had to talk with them about what it’s like to be gay, and to share experiences with them.
“For them to ask me … anything that you would ask a normal person that’s your friend and for them to ask me those questions and feel comfortable with it, I love that,” Martin said. “And for them to ask dumb questions for me to be like, ‘No. You have it completely wrong. You’re ignorant. You’re being stupid.’ That stuff means a lot. Or for them to be like, ‘How was your date the other night, Collin?’ Mainly because, I mean, I’m very open. I like to tell them everything. But for them to also engage with me makes me feel … like nothing else is new, which is how it should be.”
To celebrate Pride Night, the Minnesota United will be wearing jerseys with rainbow numbers. Now that he’s come out publicly, Collin Martin may be wearing his with more pride than ever.
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