Former Hull player Thomas Beattie becomes first English footballer in 30 years to come out as gay
Former Hull City youth team player Thomas Beattie has become the first English footballer in 30 years to come out as gay.
The 33 year-old becomes the the first player from England to do so since Norwich’s Justin Fashnau in 1990.
Taking to Instagram, he said: "It’s time to share something very personal to me. It’s easier to sit in silence but the real challenge is to speak up and for me it’s time live my truth and hopefully affect change in some way.
"I am a brother, son, friend and I’m gay. It took me a long time to accept who I am and I hope it is a little easier for the next generation.
"Thank you to everyone who has supported me through this process and the journey to come, I appreciate you.
"Thank you to @espn @espnuk for the platform to speak openly."
Beattie spent some of his teenage years with Hull before eventually ending up in Canada and having spells with three different clubs in Forest City London, London City and Ottawa Fury.
Then in 2013 he made the move to Singapore where he spent one year playing for Hougang United before finishing his career with Warriors.
Beattie officially retired in 2015 after a head collision which caused a brain haemorrhage and fractures to the cheek, nose, eye sockets and forehead.
And while he has now come out publicly, Beattie admits he did not consider it while playing.
Speaking to Advocate, he said: "I never thought about coming out whilst playing. I literally felt like I had to sacrifice one of the two: who I am, or the sport I loved before I could remember.
"I used football as a form of escapism and in many ways it saved me, until I reached the point in life where there was some personal growth. I was standing still on that front.
"Society [told] me masculinity is linked to sexuality and so being an athlete playing a physical sport felt like a huge contradiction.
"It’s still a new and current process for me to be honest. I told close friends and family three months ago, which was when I decided to embark on the journey of speaking openly about it.
"As an athlete it was something that was unspoken about, which is why I want to share my story in hopes that there will eventually be more support for people in a similar situation.
"I recently started to tell some of my old team-mates who have been amazing and treated me not a single ounce differently. They know I’m the same lad I was 10 minutes before telling them so that’s been refreshing."