Collin Martin is a 23, a midfielder for MLS side Minnesota United, and as of this morning, the league’s only active openly gay player.
Martin came out publicly via a statement on Twitter, choosing Pride Night to make the announcement:
Tonight my team, @MNUFC , is having their Pride night. It's an important night for me — I'll be announcing that I am an openly gay player in Major League Soccer. #soccerforall pic.twitter.com/cOJQXfrBiv
— Collin Martin (@martcw12) June 29, 2018
Martin talked to the Star Tribune about his decision:
“I’m kind of different that when one day, sometimes it just clicks for me,” Martin said with a snap of his fingers. “If I’m able to then just be cool with it and move forward, then let’s make it happen.”
Martin, a typically private person who rarely posts on Instagram or Twitter, informed the team on Monday of his plan to announce he was gay ahead of United’s Pride Night game at 7 p.m. Friday against FC Dallas at TCF Bank Stadium.
“I never thought that was completely important because I thought it’d been done before,” Martin said of publicly coming out. “But, I mean, you look around, there’s still not an out professional athlete in the five major sports in America … right now. So it’s still important.”
Martin isn’t the first MLS player to come out; former LA Galaxy and USMNT winger/defender Robbie Rogers did as well, while simultaneously announcing his retirement. Rogers eventually returned to the field for the Galaxy, though, becoming the league’s first openly gay player and winning a title with LA before injuries forced him into retirement after the 2017 season.
Martin has been out to teammates for two years, and was motivated to make the announcement publicly for a few reasons, including their support:
He said a few things recently inspired him to make a public statement.
One was seeing how much support there is in his sport for the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer community, with 125 men’s and women’s soccer players from all different levels participating in Playing for Pride, a fundraising campaign in its second year that raises money and encourages conversation about inclusion.
“The big thing, and the point I’m trying to bring across, is that I’ve been out with the team and with my teammates and the staff for over a year now, and I’ve had nothing but support,” Martin said. “It’s taken me a while to feel comfortable on the teams I’ve played on and to be completely myself and talk to my teammates about my [ex-]boyfriend and who I’m going on dates with or about being gay myself. And all that has been super rewarding.
“At this point, it was just trying to maybe get over that hump and to maybe see if I can just affect more people, because I think I’ve affected a lot of people in my daily life and around this locker room positively just by being myself.”
Congratulations to Martin, and to MLS; it’s the youngest of the country’s major men’s sports leagues, and yet it’s the league that’s enabled a culture where players feel supported enough to come out and still play. That’s probably not a coincidence.