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Collin Martin has new perspective on lack of out gay male athletes

Collin Martin has new perspective on lack of out gay male athletes
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As one of just a handful of out gay athletes currently active in professional men’s sports in the U.S., Collin Martin is regularly in demand for interviews.

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He’s always guaranteed to bring great insight and his easygoing nature makes for a rewarding conversation.

Martin has just kicked off his 12th season as a pro soccer player, at the sixth club of his career — North Carolina FC. He played the full 90 minutes in a goalless draw at home to Charleston Battery on Saturday night in their USL Championship season opener.

He’s also the latest guest on the LGBT FC podcast, which started life back in June 2022 as a project of Pride Republic, the LGBTQ and allies supporters group for Los Angeles FC.

The pod recently passed 50 episodes and securing a chat with Martin — who was the first player in men’s soccer to come out publicly as gay while active in a top-flight pro league — had been a long-term target.

Regular host Luke Klipp is joined by his husband Bryant Edwards for the interview. Klipp shared his story of being an LAFC fan who is gay with Outsports back in 2020, a couple of years after Martin’s historic coming-out moment at MLS side Minnesota United.

On the LGBT FC pod, the 29-year-old midfielder is asked for his thoughts on why the group of out gay or bi men currently playing professional soccer anywhere in the world is still so small.

It’s thought Martin is one of just six guys — Jakub Jankto, Josh Cavallo, Jake Daniels, Andy Brennan and Zander Murray are the others — who would all be classed as pros and who are out, within an overall FIFA estimate of just over 123,000 worldwide.

“I’m going to answer this in a way that I don’t think I’ve answered before,” he says.

“I’d say I think we can all agree that sexuality is a spectrum. And I think that there’s probably a lot of guys in locker rooms that aren’t ‘full-on’ gay like myself, but may be curious and bisexual.

“They probably tend to err on the side of straight because of a myriad of reasons. So I think maybe there’s more instances of that than people that would identify as gay.”

A newly-released study by Gallup would seem to support Martin’s view.

The polling company recently surveyed more than 12,000 Americans aged 18 or over. For men grouped in Generation Z — which for the study is defined as people born between 1997 and 2005 — 6.9% said they are bi, compared to 2.8% who said they are gay.

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Martin was born in 1994. He would be part of the Millennial group for the study; even within that older group, 2.5% of men said they are bi, slightly higher than the 2.3% who said they are gay.

“Talking to teammates, I feel like — in terms of the spectrum — there’s more openness there than you think,” adds Martin.

“I’m sure there has to be maybe a couple USL players and a handful of MLS players that are maybe in the closet.

“But there’s probably more guys that are bisexual or curious or, you know, prefer women, but would be interested in men.”

Martin’s own experience means he is acutely sensitive to the reasons why gay or bi male athletes in team sports are unlikely to share this information with others.

“It’s tough. So many parts of your life have to be aligned,” he explains. 

“If there’s one person in your life, whether that be an agent, an owner, a general manager, that is keeping you in the closet, who am I to say that isn’t valid for the person to have real concern [about coming out]?

“It could be a family member. Personally, my religious upbringing really kept me down for a while and kept me questioning.”

He continues: “I would say just try to trust your immediate loved ones, the people that you consider your closest people.

“Start with the people probably outside of the locker room. And then once you get that support and you feel that love and you feel safe, then try to trust your teammates or a trainer, someone at the club who you feel comfortable with.”

It’s a particularly helpful section of a very listenable episode, in which Martin also talks about his coming out experience at Minnesota United and lets on which international footballer he thinks is the sexiest (here’s a clue — he won the FIFA World Cup in 2018!)

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Check out the LGBT FC podcast here.





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