In a recent interview with Sky Sports, Thetford Town FC player-manager Matt Morton shared his coming out story.
Morton – who describes himself as “a typical alpha-male, one of the lads” – claims he had no inkling of his own attraction to men until January 2018.
“It felt very surreal to me, but at the same time it felt very natural.”
“I didn’t have that Disney romance at any point with any of the girls that I dated and therefore everything else around me became more important,” he explains. “All of my time went into football, work and friends, and therefore there was no time left. That was a good excuse for me growing up.”
“If you saw me walking out onto the pitch, and then saw me play, maybe I’m not what you’d expect!
Adding, “None of it fits, which forces people out of their preconceived ideas of what a gay person is, and what an old-school footballer is.”
Thankfully, most of the reactions Morton has received from friends and family have been positive, minus a few “expected” ones who took a bit longer to come around.
“It didn’t come from a place of hatred; it came from a place of ignorance. I can only imagine that for my dad – for a short period of time – it was like a little part of his world fell apart.
“We didn’t talk for a few weeks and that was my decision. It was the right thing to do, even though I know that it hurt him a lot. But that might have also played a big part in his willingness to be educated around it.”
Morton hopes that talks around his coming out will help shift attitudes in the world of sport.
“I’m acutely aware that being a player-manager coming out in the non-league scene is relatively unique. But that means you can help all the future people who want to do that by going first.
That’s important to me. If my shoulders are broad enough to support others who then want to follow in my footsteps, then great.”
Morton wishes he’d come out sooner than he did, because it “brings everything forward a year and you always want to get time back”; describing the experience as “liberating”.
With regards to whether other players may treat him differently, Mortan claims “I thought there was a chance of that – I just wasn’t concerned about it any longer. And I’m pleased to say that nobody’s treated me differently.”
In fact, he details how an opposing player who he’s always have a problematic time with even took to Twitter to say kind things.
Mortan stated, “Ultimately, I’m happier now than ever before.”