Zander Murray has become the first current professional footballer in Scotland to come out as gay. The Gala Fairydean Rovers forward spoke about coming out in an interview published on the Lowland League club’s website on Friday.
The 30-year-old has said he “feels like the weight of the world is now off my shoulders” after coming out. Murray is the first openly gay footballer to play in the Scottish leagues since Justin Fashanu, who played for Hearts in the 1993-94 season.
“I want to help other players who are struggling with this as it isn’t easy for men, especially footballers, to deal with,” Murray 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.”
“In recent years [the Blackpool forward] Jake Daniels has come out, and then Craig Napier and Lloyd Wilson, who are both referees, have done the same,” Murray added. “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.”
Murray also called for more support to help gay footballers in the men’s game, adding that he would decline being tagged in social media posts in an effort to hide his sexuality, because of his career as a professional footballer.
“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,” he said. “The vibe was brilliant and everyone was just being free and happy, and it was great to just be me.
“Then I thought to myself: what am I doing? This is playing havoc with my life. 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, [but] the lads at the club have been so supportive,” added Murray, who holds the club record for most goals scored in a single season. “I have a really strong bond with everyone at the club and I have been blown away by the support.”
“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 players for support but there are none,” he added. “I would really like to look into and see what support can be given to other players to inspire them.”
“Of course there are gay footballers in our game. 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. 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,” Murray concluded. “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.”
The Gala Fairydean Rovers club chair, 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. I am certain he will get the support he deserves from all across the football family in Scotland.”
The Scottish Football Association tweeted: “You’re going to inspire a lot of people, Zander. We hear you and we’ll be in touch.”