In a recent interview with PinkNews, former professional football player Thomas Beattie opened up about coming out and the struggles he went through in the process.
The 35-year-old entrepreneur revealed that it took him so long to come out because he thought that being gay made him “less of a man.”
“I think I’ve become more cognizant of toxic masculinity and how society in general views the image of a male and a female. I always felt like it would be perceived as an attack on my ability to do my job as an athlete, and then even post-football the things I was working on and building. I had a misconception, which had been perpetuated by society, that it made me less of a man, or less able to do my job,” Beattie stated.
Indeed, there have been changes when it comes to gender roles being much more flexible, however, the former athlete said that it is still a continuous work in progress for athletes and the area of sports.
“I think these roles for the better have been redefined in many areas, but I think sport is one area where we’re still really trying to define what the expectations of a male and a female are. I think that was one thing I struggled with. I now know that none of it makes me any less or any more, but I think that misconception was something I struggled with.”
Beattie then talked about how he felt after coming out in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic.
“I came out and was then kind of locked in my condo, which in a way kind of protected me. It was a little bit overwhelming, but post coming out it’s been brilliant – it’s been so liberating.”
“When I came out I realized people actually love you for it or they respect you for it or they admire you for the courage of being able to share that. It was a strange feeling for me because I instantly went from fear and anxiety and a lot of struggle to, ‘Why didn’t I do this sooner?'”
One answer to that is internalized homophobia, as revealed by the former footballer.
“… I had institutionalized homophobia within me, and I think that was just the society I grew up in, especially within football.”
“I was also probably a part of that problem – I knew the word ‘gay’ as a slur before I really knew what it meant. It was a word that people used around me when you didn’t like something or somebody. That word had such a negative connotation that when I even considered I might be part of that community, the stigma of what that meant, it weighed heavily on me.” Beattie expressed.
He also talked about why sporting events shouldn’t be held in Qatar saying,
“In my personal opinion, I don’t think any global sporting event should be given to any country that doesn’t have bare minimum equal rights. Sport is a celebration of diversity – it’s something that brings communities together. It feels hypocritical to host these events but then not have the same basic human rights across the board. That’s where I stand on that in terms of not just the World Cup, but with all sporting events.”
Despite his opinion though, Beattie also admitted that hosting a sporting event, such as the World Cup, in Qatar have a possible benefit because doing so can at least open up a dialogue about the rights of people who are a part of the LGBTQ+ spectrum.