June 30 (UPI) — Midfielder Collin Martin came out as gay in a social media statement, ahead of Minnesota United’s Pride Night.
“Tonight my team, @MNUFC, is having their Pride Night,” Martin tweeted Friday. “It’s an important night for me — I’ll be announcing that I am an openly gay player in Major League Soccer. #soccerforall”
The 23-year-old played at Wake Forest before joining the MLS in 2013.
Martin received support from several teams after the message, including Minnesota United, the San Jose Earthquakes and Orlando City SC.
“Tonight my team, Minnesota United, is having their Pride Night,” Martin said in a longer statement. “It’s an important night for me — I’ll be announcing for the first time publicly that I am an openly gay player in Major League Soccer. I have been out as a gay man for many years to my family and friends, and this includes my teammates.”
“I have played Major League Soccer for six seasons: four seasons with DC United and two seasons with Minnesota United. Today, I’m proud that my entire team and the management of Minnesota United know that I am gay. I have received only kindness and acceptance from everyone in Major League Soccer and that has made the decision to come out publically that much easier.”
“As we celebrate Pride Night, I want to thank my teammates for their unconditional support for who I am. 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.”
Several players, including USMNT star Jozy Altidore, posted messages regarding Martin.
“Definition of courage right here,” Altidore tweeted. “Huge respect for you, Collin.”
FC Dallas beat United 1-0 on Friday at TCF Bank Stadium in Minneapolis.