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Scottish non league player explains why he felt need to come out as gay

Scottish non league player Zander Murray explains why he felt the need to come out at gay, adding he felt ‘enough was enough”.

The 30-year-old, who is in his fourth season with Lowland League club Gala Fairydean Rovers, said he made the decision to help others who wish to open up.

Back in May, Blackpool midfielder Jake Daniels became the first active professional player since Justin Fashanu in 1990 to come out as gay.

Murray hailed the support he has received from teammates at the club, for whom he holds the record for the most goals scored in a single season.


Gala Fairydean Rovers striker Zander Murray has announced he is gay – making him the first Scottish senior player to do so. Murray, 30, who is in his fourth season with the club, will be the first openly gay footballer in Scottish men’s professional footballer since Justin Fashanu played for Airdrie and Hearts in the mid-1990s, several years after announcing his sexuality.

His announcement followed that of referees Craig Napier and Lloyd Wilson who came out in June this year.

In an interview with the club, Murray said he wants to “help” other players who are struggling about opening up.

He said: “Firstly it feels like the weight of the world is now off my shoulders.

“The reason I have decided to this now is twofold firstly I was on holiday recently at a pride event and I have always been that closeted never to go to these things but I loved it.

“The vibe was brilliant and everyone was just being free and happy and it was great to just be me.

“I also want to help other players who are struggling with this as it isn’t easy for men, especially footballers to deal with.”

Murray would decline being tagged in social media posts in a bid to conceal who he really was and this was only due to the fact he played football.

He added: “Then I thought to myself ‘what am I doing’ this is playing havoc with my life.

“So at that moment I thought enough is enough.

“I put a post on my social media telling folk I was gay. I didn’t need to sit the boys down in the changing room and tell them.”

Murray, who holds the club’s record for goals scores in a single season, believes more needs to be done to help men in the game who are gay to come out. With no role models or anyone to help he will now focus his attention on trying to help other players do the same.

He added: “The lads at the club have been so supportive. I have a really strong bond with everyone at the club and I have been blown away by the support.

“Before coming out you think people will turn against you and you think the worst.

“It’s been lovely how much support I have had.

“I have done lots of research and I always keep an eye on media outlets to see if there are any platforms for young gay male footballers for support but there are none.

“I would really like to look into and see what support can be given to other players to inspire them.

“In recent years Jake Daniels has come out and then Craig Napier and Lloyd Wilson who are both referees have done the same.

“Of course there are gay footballers in our game and I have had lots of players get in touch saying they have read my post and they can’t believe how strong I am by doing this.”

Murray hopes that one day players won’t feel the need to come out and make statements and he hopes that men can be comfortable in being who they are.

He said: “It can be difficult and you can feel very alone. I knew I was different for many years but with other people in the game coming out it’s been amazing.

“Hopefully the SFA can work with other leagues and partners and look at support and drive how we help other players.

“That support is greatly needed in the men’s game.

“Women’s football is another ball game. They are completely diverse and open and this is something the men’s game should aspire to be.”

Following Zander’s announcement club chairperson, Ryan Cass, said: “Everyone at the club is fully supportive of Zander and we are delighted for him that he feels comfortable to come out.

“Zander has shown great bravery and he has the club’s full support and I am certain that he will get the support he deserves from all across the football family in Scotland.”

As mentioned, Craig Napier and Lloyd Wilson have become the first active Scottish male referees to publicly come out as gay.

Napier revealed his sexuality in a brave interview with the Scottish FA: “It’s something that I never thought I’d be sitting here doing,” said Napier. It’s something I’ve obviously lived with for a long time. It’s been a difficult journey to get to this point.

“It’s really important that people like me are willing to sit here and do this. I don’t think this needs to be a news story but I think at the moment, it really does because we need to see the climate change so that people do feel that they can be their true self and live happily and comfortable in their own skin. And then that needs to transcend into football.”

Napier went on to say: “I’ve always felt so much lighter after speaking about it. This isn’t a conversation about me, this is a conversation about trying to change the culture in Scottish football. There is something about football, there’s still that barrier.

“Hopefully here in Scotland I can play a small part in hoping that it can inspire whoever is out there to be more comfortable in who they are and have the conversations with their family, their friends, their team-mates and come out publicly if they feel able to.”

Wilson also publicly came out as gay: “This has been a horrific journey to be honest,” Wilson bravely admitted, as quoted by the Daily Mail. “A journey of maybe about 17 years of living a life that I didn’t want to live, living a lie.

“Living the way that other people wanted me to live, or that I thought other people wanted me to live. Probably directed and dictated in many ways by football. The biggest worry for me was being judged differently from my colleagues who are not gay.

“I suppose being judged by fans for who I am off the field rather than who I am on it. At the end of the day I am a referee. I will get things right and I will get many things wrong, we all do because it’s the nature of the job. But I want to be judged for the decisions I make on the pitch and not those that I make off.

“I feel doing this interview, that I must say I am petrified about, is absolutely crucial for not just my colleagues, but also my colleagues who are players and suffering this same battle and journey that I have suffered.”

Napier admitted he was inspired by Daniels’ brave admission. He also praised Josh Cavallo, who publicly came out as gay in October 2021 when there were no other openly gay male top-flight footballers. “It has been really inspiring to see what has happened recently with Josh Cavallo and Jake Daniels more recently,” added Napier. “And I think many people will take inspiration from that.”

Twitter users gave their thoughts as the Scottish non league player explains why he felt need to come out as gay…

@katiemcmilnut: Spot on Zander! Congrats and thank you for being so brave 🏳️‍🌈

@will432455: 🏳️‍🌈 🏳️‍🌈 Everyone in sport deserves to be who they wish to be

@burbridge_stu: Of course the issue here is as he says that he looks forward to the time when this is not news. But for now it is and will continue to be as long as folk react by saying that this is not news. Well done Zander 👏

@JamieStewart87: Spot on Zander! The ‘don’t shove it in my face’ stance is not acceptable. The question isn’t why come out… it’s why not come out?

@Fitzy__07: Tremendous statement mate, and all the respect to you for coming out. We need more role models like this 👏

@NeilVirani: Good for you. Whether you publicise your sexuality is entirely your choice & should never be dictated by whether it makes other people a bit uncomfortable.

@71Season: Good luck to you mate. You’ll no doubt get a fair amount of stick from some knuckle headed opposing crowds but the harder your walk here the easier you’re making it for gay players in the future.

@DavidMo62918430: Good man Zander! This will make a big difference to thousands of people you might never meet. Solidarity 🌈

@RobbieHendo1982: Spot on. I hope others can take on board your bravery and honesty, and feel safe enough to follow suit. It shouldn’t be this way but the hope is that your actions can help change. All the best to you.

@CraniumO: Yes, most people don’t care if someone is gay. And then most of those same people also don’t care about homophobia either. They act like it virtually doesn’t exist while continuing to casually take the piss out of being gay most chances they get…while the murders continue

@BarrieGWhite: Well done Zander, great to see you looking after others too. Good luck!

@kitcub: Big decision. Great news Zander, and brilliant to see you looking out for others too! 💪 🏳️‍🌈

@Freddie_23_23: What’s sad is this is worthy of news. Sooner this is seen as the norm the better. But that being said. Until it is, well done Zander 👏🏼 hope many who are gay follow the same path without fear.

@calum_traynor: Good on you Zander. I’m sure the vast majority of Scottish football fans have got your back. Don’t let anyone put you down for being who you are, we got you ❤️

@22Beardface: Zander, I don’t know you/your team but I fully support & I am so, so glad of your decision to step up & lead the way. My brother didn’t feel comfortable coming out until his mid 20s. I can’t imagine the pressure sports players feel to conform so ♥️💪🌈🏳️‍🌈 thank you. #LoveIsLove

@ScotCuthbertson: Whatever you do on the pitch you’ll have changed Scottish football for the better. You be you and we’re right behind you.

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