Following in the lead of former Premier League footballer Thomas Hitzlsperger last week, semi-professional player Liam Davis has also announced that he is gay.
Davis, a winger for Gainsborough Trinity, came out in an interview with the Lincolnshire Echo on Saturday.
In doing so, he became the first openly-gay semi-professional or professional footballer in the UK, still playing.
He said: “I personally hope that over the next 10 years I’m not the only gay footballer out there. Nobody wants to be forced out, but I hope they can look and see there is someone out there who has done it. I hope we can get to a stage where it is not a bad thing, that there is no problem and people just get on with it.”
Going on, he said that he came out to friends and family, and his team in summer 2013, after knowing that he was gay from the age of 13 or 14.
“I came out to my family and friends first. I did not even think about football. I didn’t think about hiding it though, because there is nothing to hide,” he said
On coming out to his team, he said: “The goalkeeper Phil Barnes brought it up with me at the bar. I don’t know if it was a bit of Dutch courage that made me talk about it, but I think the way Phil asked helped as well. He did it in a jokey way which broke the ice and that was good.”
He owns a restaurant with his partner Neil, and said: “My partner and I work in the same place and it will probably come across that we are a couple. But people do not walk out of our restaurant because of that. They come in for some good food and good service. It should be the same in football. I should be able to picked, or not picked, on merit, not because of my sexuality. You are there to play and do a good job for your team.”
Justin Fashanu was the first professional footballer in Britain to come out, in 1990, before he took his own life eight years later, aged 37.