By Eric Carlyle
Thomas Beattie, former international star professional soccer player announced in June interview with ESPN that he had decided to come out as gay, hoping to be “a positive example for players and also gay sports fans.”
Born in Yorkshire, England, Beattie played competitive sports as a child and signed with a professional team while only 10 years old. At 19 he moved to the US to play for Limestone College in South Carolina. Beattie was a breakout star taking his team to the NCAA Sweet Sixteen.
After college Beattie played in London, Canada and Singapore for such teams as London City FC, Ottawa Fury FC, Hougang United FC and the SAF Warriors FC.
In an interview with David Artavia that appeared in the Advocate, he shared that he never thought about coming out while he was playing. Like so many closeted professional gay athletes, Beattie used sports as a way to escape dealing with being gay, saying he felt societal pressure to stay closeted.
But in 2015 Beattie was seriously injured in a collision during a match against Geylang International FC resulting in a brain hemorrhage along with serious injuries to his face. The injury forced him to retire from soccer.
But it turns out that Beattie is a Renaissance man. Since his retirement he has kept busy as a model and entrepreneur. He has appeared in magazine spreads for the likes of Esquire and is also a successful entrepreneur specializing in the technology industry.
Beattie is only the third pro soccer player from Great Britain to come out following Justin Fashanu and Robbie Rogers. Fashanu came out in 1990 but eventually committed suicide in 1998. Rogers, an American playing for Leeds, came out after they released him. Rogers then moved back to the U.S. and became the first pro soccer player to be hired as an openly gay player by the LA Galaxy.
Although there have been nine pro players from six different countries who have come out since Fashanu, Beattie being number 10, there still hasn’t been the widespread societal acceptance of the LGBTQ+ community all of them had hoped their coming out would accomplish.
Beattie is hoping to change that. He’s passionate about using his platform to become a voice for the community, advocating for inclusion and equality, and making society more accepting.
Photo by Jsimps28 / CC BY-SA (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0)