Former Newcastle Jets player Andy Brennan has described the support he has received since coming out earlier this summer as overwhelmingly positive.
In an interview with the Daily Telegraph, Brennan promotes the positive atmosphere he has experienced since revealing his sexuality on Instagram.
“I haven’t had one negative comment. That was something I feared a lot with everyone I told, but everyone – team-mates, family, friends – has been amazing.”
Brennan’s story of support and positive messages chimes with many gay sportsmen and women such as Tom Daley who have remarked upon the feeling of liberation after coming.
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To Israel Folau and everyone growing up how I did, afraid to admit who they are: I would never aim to tell you what I feel is right or wrong. However, what I can tell you is what you have done and what you are doing, in such a public manner, would have made 16-year-old me feel like I don’t belong. Already feeling so alone, not able to accept what deep down I knew to be true, I would now be reading about one of Australia’s supposed sporting heroes condemning homosexuals. 16-year-old me, reading your words, would have made me further deplore who I was. Push away and hide, as I don’t belong. I would have more than ever felt I have nowhere to turn to, no one to speak to. You were a role model for so many young people, and yes, some of those people are gay. I wish you could take a minute to think for those young people, and how what you have said might affect them in their struggle to find who they are, and ultimately accept themselves. For most, accepting yourself as a gay person is not easy. I hope they are able to see through what you have said, and not let anyone influence their ability to be themselves. For me now, I am not 16, I am 26. I have never been prouder or happier to be who I am. #sport #prideinsport #pride #folau @minus18youth #kickitout @standupeventsmelbourne @daviddavutovic
Now currently playing for the Melbourne-based Football club Green Gully, Andy Brennan is one of only a handful of openly gay men playing professionally for the sport. This lack of openness and diversity directly contrasts the LGBT+ demographics within the 2019 Women’s World Cup, in which there were 38 openly LGBT+ players involved.
Andy Brennan’s testimony comes after the Twitter saga of the anonymous Championship Player who created the account @FootballerGay, which was subsequently deleted by the account holder on the week in which he was due to reveal himself. The legitimacy of these claims is uncertain, however, Brennan remarks upon the positive dialogue that the speculation surrounding the story opened up.
“The positive energy it created with all the supportive reactions from people was more important than anything negative, and that’s what you have to focus on – otherwise you let the negativity win.”
Following his coming out announcement, Brennan described how it felt for him in an essay published by Professional Footballers Australia.
“I’m gay. It’s incredible saying that now; it feels amazing. And weirdly, it doesn’t feel like a big deal. Really in 2019, it shouldn’t be.”
Despite the remarkably supportive reaction Brennan received, there still clearly is some way to go for full LGBT+ equality within the men’s sport, considering the scarcity of out LGBT+ players. Stories such as Brennan’s and the positive discourse amplified by queer sportsmen and women are hopefully promoting an increasingly welcoming and diverse narrative for the world of sport.
“For people wondering why it is important for me to share this – the reality is, is that no straight person has to ever question how those around them might respond to their sexuality,” Brennan wrote.
“Being gay, in sport, and in the closet, it has been a mental burden of not knowing how those around you will react. It was a perceived pressure that consumed me. For so long, I wasn’t sure about myself and I certainly wasn’t comfortable talking about how I felt.”
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