8 Male Football Players who Dared to Come Out As Gay

Football, like any other game, also has many gay players. But it takes guts to come out and reveal one’s gender as gay, which is usually an act of courage in a world that is not conditioned to accept every gender. This listicle will mention eight male football players who dared to come out as gay.

Seventeen male footballers have courageously revealed their sexuality as gay in public so far.

Football is a universal sport. So, footballers shouldn’t be insulted or discriminated against based on their sexuality. 

Even though it has already been three decades since Justin Fashanu first publicly came out as gay, there are only a few of them revealing it. 

In England 44 league team have official LGBTQ fan group
In England, 44 league teams have an official LGBTQ fan group (Source: Wikipedia)

The primary reason behind many gay footballers not revealing their sexuality publicly is fear of homophobia on and off the pitch. 

So, many professional leagues, teams, and players are raising their voices to fight back against homophobia so that gay footballers don’t face backlash while coming out. 

We know there are a few people who have revealed they are very recent; we will include them in another list.

Now, without any further ado, let’s list the football players who dared to come out as gay publicly. 

8. Andy Brennan

Andy Brennan is a 29-year-old professional Australian football player from Australia. Brennan played in the Australian top-flight division A-League in 2017 for New Castle Jets.

Other than that, he has been playing for semi-professional football teams. At present, he is playing for Hume City.

Andy Brennan on the field (Source : BBC)
Andy Brennan on the field (Source: BBC)

Furthermore, he is the latest active footballer to come out as gay. In 2019, he revealed his sexuality during an interview with the Melbourne newspaper, Herald Sun.

Moreover, Andy Brennan is the first Australian male footballer to openly disclosed being gay.

He stated it took many years to make his announcement public. Brennan also revealed he had dated girls in the past. 

[Check out the list of other 30 people who identify themselves as LGBTQ]

30 Professional Athletes who Identify as LGBTQ >>

7. Collin Martin

Collin Martin is a 28-year-old professional football player. Currently, he plays for the newly formed San Diego Loyal in MLS. 

In 2018, an MLS midfielder revealed his sexuality on his social media.

His announcement came hours before his former club, Minnesota United, hosted Fc Dallas in a “Pride Match” to support LGBTQ.

Collin Martin during San Diego unvieling
Collin Martin during the San Diego unveiling (Source: Getty Images)

However, his family, friends, and teammates already knew about his sexuality long before the public announcement. 

Likewise, in 2019, Martin was honored at the 6th Annual Athlete Aly action Awards for his bold move. 

Currently, he is the only openly gay football player to play in any of the American top 5 major leagues. 

In 2020, during the San Diego Loyal match against Phoneix Rising FC, Martin released a story of homophobic insults directed toward him. 

6. Thomas Hitzlsperger

One of the highest-profile male football players publicly declaring himself as gay is German footballer Thomas Hitzlsperger.

He has been capped 52 times by Germany and has made appearances in the 2006 World Cup and 2008 Euro. 

Currently, he has worked as Vfb Stuggart sports head since 2019. During his early career, Thomas played in the premier league for Aston Villa

Later, Hitzlsperger joined Stuggart in 2005. He even won the German top-flight league. He returned to Westham in 2010 after a short loan spell at Lazio.

Thomas Hitzlsperger (Source: planetfootball.com)
Thomas Hitzlsperger (Source: planetfootball.com)

However, following his contract termination, he ended up in Wolfburg. One year later, he again returned to England to play for Everton.

But in 2013, aged 31, he retired from professional football. Hitzlsperger mentioned frequent transfers and injuries as reasons behind his early retirement.

In January 2014, Hitzlsperger came out as gay while interviewing Die Zeit, a German newspaper. Later, he stated he was released a few years back and was gay.

In the past, he was in an 8-year relationship with Inga, and they split one month before marriage in 2007. 

His fellow German players supported his decision to announce himself as gay publicly. 

Lukas Podolski said his decision was brave, and coach Joachim Low stated his announcement deserved every respect. 

Nowadays, he is raising his voice to help footballers find it difficult to reveal their sexuality. 

5. Robbie Rodgers

Robbie Rodger is a retired professional American football player. He has played for the USA 18 times.

During his spell at Leeds, Rodgers publicly appeared gay in February 2013. Later, he became the second footballer in Britain to reveal their sexuality.

Although FA and footballers fully supported him, Rodger announced his retirement following the announcement.

Later, in March 2013, interview with the British newspaper, The Guardian, he mentioned avoiding pressure from media and fans behind his retirement. 

Robbie Rogers enjoying holiday with his family
Robbie Rogers is enjoying the holiday with his family

However, after speaking with 500 individuals in the LGBT youth program in Oregon, he decided to return. 

He then joined LA Galaxy, becoming the first male footballer to play in any top-flight sports league in America. 

Later, after winning the 2014 MLS Cup, Rodgers also became the first gay male to win the league title in the USA.

In 2015, Rodger got inducted into the National Gay and Lesbian Sports Hall of Fame

Furthermore, in 2013 Rodgers started dating Greg Berlanti and welcomed their first child Caleb Berlanti (son), through surrogacy in February 2016.

Later, in December 2017, they married in California. Then, in May 2019, the couple welcomed their second child Mia Barbara Rodgers-Berlanti (daughter). 

4. David Testo

David Testo is a retired professional football player. Testo played for Richmond Kickers, Colombus Crew, Vancouver Whitecaps, and Montreal Impact.

In November 2011, in an interview with Canadian broadcaster Radio Canada, Testo came out as gay. 

He also mentioned his family, friends, and Montreal Impact staff and teammates were already aware of his sexual orientation. 

David Testo (Source: Wikimedia Commons)
David Testo (Source: Wikimedia Commons)

Moreover, David Testo is the first professional American male professional footballer to come out as gay. He is also the third footballer to announce his sexuality publicly.

In 2019, he was also featured in a documentary related to homophobia in sports named Standing on the Line.

Testo is a You Can Play campaign advisory group fighting to eliminate homophobia in the sporting world. 

3. Anton Hysen

Anton Hysen is the youngest son of retired Swedish footballer Glenn Hysen and one of the gay players in football. 

Hysen played in the Swedish top-flight league for BK Hacken in the 2008-09 season. But injuries affected his career.

So, he played in the second tier and even in the fourth division in America. 

Anton Hysen carrying LGBT flag
Anton Hysen carrying the LGBTQ flag (Source: Wikipedia)

In 2011, Anton Hysen publicly came out as gay during an interview with Offside. Later, he became the second footballer to become gay while playing professionally. 

While announcing his sexual orientation publicly, he was just 20 years old. But Hysen had already told his family and families, and they were fully supportive. 

Hysen mentioned many anonymous phone calls claiming players wanted to come out. He stated he is starting a project to support homosexuality in sports.

After coming out as a gay footballer, he also even became an online sensation. He appeared on the cover of many magazines as a model. 

Later, he was profiled on Swedish broadcasting channel TV4 in March 2011 in a debate show (Can gays play football too?)

Likewise, he also participated in the 7th edition of the reality TV show Lets Dance and became the first-ever gay to win the contest.

The documentary Rise Above is a film on Anton Hysen released in 2013 to portray his story as gay. 

2. Oliver Rouyer

Oliver Rouyer is a 66 years old retired professional footballer. He has been capped by France’s national side 17 times.

During his professional career, Rouyer played for top-flight French clubs like Nancy, Strasbourg, and Lyon.

Oliver Rouyer (Source: Pinterest)
Oliver Rouyer (Source: Pinterest)

After retiring, he even managed Nancy and Fc Sion. However, it was only in 2008 that he came out as gay. 

Moreover, he is the only French footballer to date to disclose his sexual orientation publicly. But as one of the gay players in football, Rouyer is doing his best to fight homophobia in France.

1. Justin Fashanu

The late athlete Justin Fashanu was the first footballer to come out publicly as gay. In 1990, Justin broke the barrier in the footballing World when he declared himself gay publicly in the newspaper. 

It has already been three decades, and he remains the only top-tier male footballer to disclose his sexuality during his professional career publicly. 

Justin Fashanu
Justin Fashanu during his Norwich days

During his early professional career, he broke the record for the most expensive English black player in 1981. After securing his move to Nottingham Forest from Norwich City for £1m. 

Later, on 22nd October 1990, The Sun Tabloid newspaper published the headline “£1m Football Star: I AM GAY”.

But after that, rather than having to support Justin was insulted by opposition fans and players. After that announcement, he also stated that no club wanted to offer him a full-time contract.

Legendary manager Brian Clogh ended Fashanu Nottingham’s career because he was gay. 

In 1998, he was also charged with sexually assaulting a 17-year-old body after drinking at night in the USA.

When police tried to arrest him on these charges, he fled to his home country England. Later on 3rd May 1998, he committed suicide. 

After his death, The Pink Paper ranked Justin Fashanu in the 99th spot in the Top 500 Lesbian and Gay Heroes. 

Likewise, The Justin Fashanu All-stars football special event started in Brighton to honor him and promote homosexuality in football.

Netflix also released a movie in memory of Justin named Forbidden Games: The Justin Fashanu Story in 2017

However, in 2012 his brother John Fashanu made a controversial comment in a TalkSport interview. He claimed his brother was just an attention seeker and was not gay.  

Recent Announcement

In June 2020, former professional footballer Tomas Beattie came out as gay during an American sports channel ESPN interview.

Beattie played professional football for ten years, from 2005 to 2015, in the USA, Canada, and Singapore. But in 2015, a severe head injury forced his retirement while playing for the Warriors. 

Thomas-Beattie
Thomas Beattie (Source: The Sun)

Furthermore, he is one of the second British football players to publicly come out as gay after Justin Fashanu did it 30 years ago.

In 2022, Jake Daniels from England revealed his gender as gay. He is the third person in England to tell his gender.

Jake Daniels in the Blackpool FC jersey (Source: The Irish Times)
Jake Daniels in the Blackpool FC jersey (Source: The Irish Times)

Similarly, Richarlyson Barbossa Felisbino from Brazil also revealed his gender as gay openly. He is the first gay footballer ever to reveal his gender in Brazil 

richarlyson

Richarlyson (Source: Olhar Digital)

Summary

The above list of players completes our list of 8 footballers who dared to come out as gay. Alongside the recent announcement, the list goes up to 17. Hence 17 total gay football players have dared to come out as gay.

  1. Justin Fashanu
  2. Olivier Rouyer
  3. Anton Hysen
  4. David Testo
  5. Robbie Rogers
  6. Thomas Hitzlsperger
  7. Collin Martin
  8. Andy Brennan

Although there are more than 17 gay footballers, they are afraid of coming out publicly.

Therefore, a suitable environment should be created through education as a driving factor, so gay footballers don’t feel pressured to reveal their sexuality. 

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Comments

  1. I have nothing but the deepest & sincerest respect or them. Straight, gay, lesbian or transgender – IT DOES NOT MATTER…!!!
    Honesty, humility & kindness, however, does…!!!

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