England women's captain Casey Stoney has become the latest footballer to announce her homosexuality, discussing the matter publicly for the first time this week.
In an interview with BBC Sport, per Alistair Magowan, Stoney spoke on why she made the decision to come out now, making note of the pressures that an athlete can face under such circumstances:
How can I expect other people to speak about themselves if I'm not willing to do that myself?
For the last 10 years I've always cared too much what other people think. I was frightened of the stereotypes, frightened of being judged, frightened of what other people might say, especially the abuse you can get through social media.
But I think I'm in a place where I feel so comfortable in my own skin, I feel so loved by the person I'm with, that I feel I can face anything.
Stoney's announcement comes in the wake of what's been a busy period for the gay community in the sports world.
The 31-year-old admits that her decision to come out as homosexual was influenced by British diver Tom Daley's admission that he was in a relationship with another man last December, also per Magowan.
Former German international Thomas Hitzlsperger was another big name to have opened up about his sexuality in January, and Stoney is clearly of the thinking that now is an appropriate time to come forth.
By doing so, the defensive lineman would become the first publicly gay player in the league.
Associate England futsal captain CJ Joiner supports Stoney's decision, questioning why there's such a difference in dispositions toward the topic in men's and women's games:
The Arsenal Ladies defender is quoted in the report as saying that being gay is more unanimously accepted in the women's sport, estimating that each team has " maybe two or three" gay players.
As well as being happy for herself, however, the 116-times capped stalwart hopes that her coming forth can be held as an example for others to do the same, per the BBC report:
I could look at it two ways. Is it because people don't feel like they need to come out and talk about it because it's never been an issue?
Or is it because, like I have been for the last 10 years, people are frightened? Even in this day and age, frightened of being judged, frightened of what people might think of them, or what they might say? It doesn't change you as a person.
One of the more controversial topics that Stoney does give her opinion on is the decision to award Russia and Qatar the 2018 and 2022 World Cups, respectively, given the governments of both countries' attitudes towards homosexuality.
Stoney is now the highest-profile active gay member of England's football community, and her decision may stand to convince others to follow suit.
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