Gay footballer Andy Brennan: Coming out has been amazing
19 August 2019 09:43
Andy Brennan admits he was terrified before telling his team-mates he was gay.
"You build it in your head that everyone's going to react badly," he tells Radio 1 Newsbeat.
But since becoming Australia's only openly-gay male professional footballer he says everything has been "amazing".
The 26-year-old plays in Melbourne for Green Gully, who are in the Australian equivalent of the English Championship.
Andy's played for teams including Newcastle Jets, South Melbourne and Oakleigh Cannons.
He made his announcement in May.
He says his team-mates weren't shocked - some were "surprised" - but everyone has been supportive.
"You live this double life where you've got a secret about yourself and you don't want people to find out.
"Then when you go to training you need to focus on your game… not on your sexuality. But it's hard not to think about it because the two are so intertwined.
"It's your life," he says.
We speak to Andy a few weeks after the publicity around the gay footballer Twitter account, which was deleted.
Its first tweet claimed the account holder was a professional footballer who had come out to his family and would "reveal his identity soon".
Andy hopes his own experience will reassure any other professional footballer who wants to go public with their sexuality one day.
"I had to be myself," he says. "If anyone had anything bad to say I couldn't really care because it's who I wanted to be.
"Negative opinions shouldn't matter because there is so much support."
Andy acknowledges the British football scene may be more intimidating than what he experiences in the Australian game.
"I've been to a few games in England and the crowds are a lot more… vocal. I get that's part of the culture.
"Soccer games in Australia are a little more family friendly and if you yell things out then people frown upon it."
There are currently no out, professional footballers in the English and Scottish leagues.
Previously, Robbie Rogers, who played for Leeds United, came out while he was playing in the US Major Soccer League and former Aston Villa player Thomas Hitzlsperger revealed his sexuality after he'd retired.
In 2018, the FA published its In Pursuit Of Progress report which reinforced its support of LGBT players and fans.
Its Equality, Diversity and Inclusion plan states it will continue working with charity Stonewall on the Rainbow Laces campaign, which aims to make football and other sports more gay-friendly.
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