Thirty-one-year-old Arsenal Ladies soccer player Casey Stoney has come out publicly as gay. Inspired by Tom Daley’s coming out, the defender hopes to help young LGBT people struggling with their sexuality.
“People taking their own lives because they’re homosexual…should never happen. They should never feel those pressures,” she said in an interview with BBC Sport.
“Now is the time (to come out) because I’m in a loving relationship…I feel safe and I don’t care what other people think anymore. I think for the last ten years I’ve cared too much what other people think.”
Although Stoney never hid her sexuality within women’s sports circles, “because it is accepted,” to the outside world, in employment, when meeting new people, she said, “I’ve never spoke about my sexuality…I’ve even made up boyfriends.
“But I wasn’t happy doing that because I was living a lie.”
Ex-Aston Villa player Thomas Hitzlsperger had retired before he revealed he was gay in January, making Stoney the most prominent active soccer player to come out in England.
Stoney acknowledged that sexuality is not as much of an issue in women’s soccer league as it is in the men’s; despite that, it’s still been difficult. “It’s taken me many years, and help. I’ve worked with a sports psychologist on certain issues and it’s been a struggle, but I’ve got here now,” she told BBC Sports.
Stoney also expressed her outrage that blatantly homophobic countries were able to host the Olympic games and the World Cup, revealing she plans to boycott the 2018 World Cup if the gay propaganda law is still in place. She also said she will boycott the games in Qatar in 2022, where homosexuality remains illegal.
“When Russian President Vladimir Putin says that gay people can come over but please don’t go near the children, what sort of message is that sending if he is that uneducated and he’s ruling that country? It seriously worries me…it’s about educating the people at the top, all the way down.”
Stoney, who plays in the semi-professional Women’s Super League, captained the Great Britain Olympic team in the London Olympics in 2012.
Following high profile sports stars such as Tom Daley, Thomas Hitzlsperger and most recently, defensive lineman and potential NFL star Michael Sam, Stoney is the latest in an ever-growing list of those coming out publicly.