Thomas Beattie has reflected on being only the second English male professional footballer to come out publicly as gay. The retired sports star shared his sexuality with the public in June, following in the footsteps of the late Justin Fashanu, who came out in 1990.
Beattie, 34, said in a new interview with The Times that he was braced for negativity – but has instead been overwhelmed with messages of support.
“The negative messages I can count on one hand,” he told the publication. “I’ve had unbelievable support from football supporters, players I’ve played against, coaches.”
Speaking about life before coming out, the sports star continued: “There were not really people I could look at and say, ‘It’s been OK for him, I’m sure it will be OK for me.'”
“The only real understanding I had of the LGBT community was something I didn’t think represented me”
Beattie, who lives in Singapore, began his football career at age nine after signing for Hull City. He played professionally in Canada and Singapore until 2015, when a head injury forced him to retire.
“I just didn’t grow up with enough examples that resonated,” he added of the lack of gay role models in his youth. “The only real understanding I had of the LGBT community was something I didn’t think represented me. So it was, that’s not me.”
Beattie’s comments follow recent player protests over homophobic language in the US and the UK.