Collin Martin, a midfielder for Major League Soccer’s Minnesota United, came out as gay on Friday morning, ahead of the team’s planned Pride celebration before a match against FC Dallas tonight.
Martin’s teammates and family have known he is gay “for many years,” he said in a statement posted to his Twitter account.
The tweet was his first public announcement.
“As we celebrate Pride night, I want to thank my teammates for their unconditional support of who I am,” Martin said in the statement. “In light of my experience as a professional athlete, I want to take this moment to encourage others who play sports professionally or otherwise to have confidence that sport will welcome them wholeheartedly. June is Pride month, and I am proud to be playing for Pride, and to be playing as an out gay man.”
“I’m proud that my entire team and the management of Minnesota United know that I am gay,” he said. “I have received only kindness and acceptance from everyone in Major League Soccer and that has made the decision to come out publicly that much easier.”
Martin, 23, is the second openly gay MLS player. Former U.S. national team member Robbie Rogers came out in 2013 — a decision that led him to retire from professional soccer in England. Rogers returned to MLS for the Los Angeles Galaxy later that year and became the league’s first openly gay player.
Rogers tweeted his support for Martin — with one exception:
NBA player Jason Collins also came out in 2013 and became the league’s first openly gay player when he played for the Brooklyn Nets in 2014. Michael Sam, a former defensive lineman at the University of Missouri, in 2014 became the first openly gay player selected in the NFL draft. Sam, however, never made an NFL roster.
Rogers and Collins have retired, meaning Martin, a six-year MLS veteran, is now the only openly gay player in any of the five major men’s sports leagues in the United States.