We have been talking an awful lot lately about the importance of supporting footballers and giving them a place where they feel comfortable in coming out. We very recently discussed the efforts being made by the FA chief Greg Clarke, who wants to try and get numerous people to come out at once to help ease the pressure of the spotlight.
On the heels of that, former pro footballer and currently active semi pro Adam McCabe has come out. Adam has played football across three continents, including England (3.5 years), Thailand (six months) and Slovakia (six months) and also played for the team at Vassar College. At the moment, he is playing semi-professionally for Georgia Revolution out of Atlanta and also works as a model.
Now he has come out and shared his story in an essay for Meanwhiler: “While I was playing soccer at a younger age, I was not out to my teammates. I did not really even think about my sexuality until the end of high school and beginning of college (around 19 years old). Soccer was the most important thing; it was all that I thought about. I lived, breathed, ate and slept soccer. And I was not going to let anything, like a relationship or my sexuality, get in the way of my goals and dreams.”
“I was never told to hide my sexual preference while playing in the United States, Europe, or Asia. However, as a gay athlete your natural instinct is to hide this from your teammates, fans, and coaches. The language that is used during practice, in the locker room, and on the pitch is extremely masculine and at times vulgar. I have heard teammates use homophobic language both in the soccer realm and in daily life. It causes you to really pay attention to your surroundings and debate every action as a closeted athlete.”
“With soccer, every locker room is the same. Whether in the United States, England, Thailand, or Slovakia, the banter and locker room talk is the same. The locker room is an extremely masculine realm, where discussions often surround women, sex, and bragging rights. When I finally accepted that I was different sexually than my teammates, it became hard for me to connect on a certain level with them.”
“Especially in the locker room, I could not relate to the experiences they discussed, or describe my feelings for females because I simply did not have them. During these discussions I would remain silent, dreading the moment a teammate would call on me for my opinion or experience. I was in a very uncomfortable place at times, but I learned quickly to adapt, to have a few made up stories in my mind, and to act “like one of the guys”.”
“Keeping my sexual orientation a secret was always on my mind, and I was constantly on my game to not let any sort of secret or slip up occur. None of my teammates knew about my sexual orientation and I did not tell any of them. During my time abroad, even though I had accepted that I was gay, I was still very ashamed, nervous, and scared to be this way and play a team sport.”
“I was afraid to share my sexuality based off of what I had heard my teammates say. Whether joking or not, these words are cemented in your brain and they shape the way you act towards and around your teammates.”
This of course points to troubling issues within the football community, we do line up with the comments from Greg Clarke previous to the ones he made recently, in which he said that a gay footballer would be the victim of abuse if he came out.
Adam also spoke to OutSports, saying: “I have grown and changed so much since my move back and now I am at a place to help other LGBTQ athletes who may be struggling. If I can help at least one individual who needs guidance, support, or even a friend to speak with, I’m here.”