British soccer player-manager Matt Morton is opening up about how he came out to his teammates and family. And also, gives a glimpse into his love life.
Morton is an active player for the Thetford Town club. He also came out as gay last year through an interview with SkySports. In the interview, Morton shared that he dated women through his 20s but was uncomfortable the entire time.
“I didn’t have that Disney romance at any point with any of the girls that I dated and therefore, everything else around me became more important. All of my time went into football, work, and friends and therefore, there was no time left.”
Then in 2018, he realized that he was attracted to a guy he’d met online and described that feeling as “surreal… but at the same time, it felt very natural.”
He explained, “I was processing the whole thing and asking myself questions like, ‘Am I gay or is it just this one guy?’ ‘Why hasn’t this happened before? Is this a phase? To be honest it freaked me out a little bit.”
He then added, “The only reason I ended up telling anyone is because the relationship had ended and it was driving me insane. It was the lowest moment of my life.”
Matt Morton then started the process of coming out. And now, he’s sharing details on how that process went. Morton started by telling a female friend, his best friend, his siblings, his cousins, his teammates, and then his parents. When it comes to his parents, they had the hardest time accepting it.
“My mum was hysterical. She ran out of the room shouting ‘you’re not gay, you’ve had girlfriends. No, no, no,” he told BBC Sport. “Mum said ‘I can’t accept it, I won’t accept it, I’ll never accept it.’ … My dad said ‘I love you but I’m struggling with this.’”
Matt Morton ended up not talking to his parents for three months after coming out to them. But, thankfully, the rift slowly healed. Now, his parents have even invited Lorenzo, Morton’s partner for the past 18 months, to stay with them.
Overall, Morton has received acceptance from fans and other soccer players. In fact, he received more homophobic remarks before he came out due to his focus on his looks. That said, there has been some homophobic pushback.
“I’ve been told one player from another club said ‘I wouldn’t play for Thetford because Matt is gay’. It annoyed me,” said Nigel Armes, Thetford’s chairman. “Matt’s a well-mannered, well-spoken and determined man. I admire him. I was a bit emotional. I told Matt he has this club’s full support. It’s his business and his life.”
In the end, Matt Morton hopes to be a symbol for LGBTQ sports fans and athletes who have yet to come out.
“Suicide is the single biggest killer of UK men under 45 and sexuality is a contributor to that,” he explained. “My advice to anyone struggling is to talk to someone you trust. I’m a strong character, I have a big personality but I had to talk to somebody. Nobody can deal with everything on their own.”
He then added, “People have reached out to me on social media and I have responded. I’ll continue to do that.”