Gay English soccer ref Ryan Atkin tells closeted athletes: ‘The culture is changing’

Ryan Atkin — the first professional English soccer referee to come out as gay — spoke to the BBC in a podcast interview about the closeted gay athletes he’s met, and asked them: why won’t they come out?

As the BBC noted, no professional soccer player in the United Kingdom has yet come out as gay, a situation Atkin is hopeful will change.

“It can sometimes be slightly disheartening to think that there are other people who are LGBT who don’t feel that it’s the right time for them or have the confidence to come out,” Atkin said. ”I often speak to people who are not out in sport, and ask them, ‘What are your fears?’ You get a mixture of responses about why they wouldn’t chose or won’t come out.”

“Sometimes it’s to do with family — they haven’t told their family, they are living a secret life,” Atkin said. “Sometimes it’s to do with their position within sport or organisations and they feel that they don’t want that sort of media intrusion around their sexuality or their personal life – they want to focus on what they’re doing within the sport. Some people aren’t at that stage of acceptance of their sexuality themselves.”

“So, there’s a number of different factors that go into it,” Atkin continued. “I think for me, you have to have all the stars aligned to feel truly comfortable that you are happy you’ve got the support from your family and friends, which is probably one of the most important things.

“What we do not want is for parts of the community to feel that they cannot participate in sports because of their sexuality, their race, their gender, their religion or their faith — all of those different characteristics that make up the wonderful communities we live in,” he said.

Since coming out in 2017, Atkin has gone from working as an assistant referee in the English Football League to refereeing in the National League this season.


Via OutSports

Be the first to reply

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.