David Testo has spoken out on how coming out as gay killed his career as a professional football player.
In an interview with SBNation, the American soccer player has described how he has not played professionally since revealing his sexuality in November.
Growing up in a devout Christian household, Testo says how he loved the religion he believed in as a child, but was told it hated him.
‘I kind of hated myself,’ he said. ‘When you’re told gay people are sinners who are going to burn in eternal hell and you’re a child, what are you supposed to feel?’
Testo was the golden boy in his school, becoming the captain of the soccer team and dating cheerleaders.
But as he went professional, and began to explore his sexuality, he was caught in a grey area where he didn’t know who knew and who didn’t.
When he became more comfortable, the locker room got a lot easier.
‘When I did come out, Testo says. ‘I didn’t know if I was going to play more, but I knew I couldn’t keep playing the way that I was. I knew if I was going to continue it had to be out in the open and people had to know about it.’
But when he did come out as gay, to a storm of media controversy, the offers from other clubs and organizations stopped coming and his career suddenly ended. He was released by his contract from Montreal Impact in October 2011.
Testo, now still young at 31, said: ‘I don’t think organizations are ready to take on that kind of baggage. My career is done.’
Now a certified yoga instructor, Testo cannot wait for a huge soccer star to come out.
Currently there is only one professional gay footballer out of an estimated 500,000 competing players, Sweden’s Anton Hysen.
Testo said: ‘These guys exist and are out there, and it’s frustrating to me that they won’t come out.
‘That’s why I can’t wait for someone really big to do it. I want someone to do it that just shocks and opens the floodgates.’
He added: ‘It wasn’t my destiny to come out and still be active. That’s somebody else’s.
‘There’s a part of me that wanted that, but I trust life. It would have worked out if it was supposed to happen.’
There have only been three other players who have come out publicly. Promising players Marcus Urban and Norwegian Thomas Berling quickly retired after opening up about their sexuality in 1991 and 2000 respectively.
Justin Fashanu, the first black player to command a million pound transfer fee in England, was the first in 1990. In 1998, he committed suicide.