Footballer Zander Murray ‘lived in fear 24/7’ before coming out as gay

Footballer Zander Murray in action on the pitch

Scottish footballer Zander Murray has described “living in fear 24/7” before he made history by coming out as gay.

On Friday (16 September), the 30-year-old Gala Fairydean Rovers striker became the first-ever senior Scottish male footballer to come out as gay.

In an interview with Sky Sports, Murray described his life before publicly coming out: “You’re living in fear 24/7, I can’t explain it. You’re hiding your phone in case you get messages from friends, constantly double-checking if you have a team night out, you’re cautious with what you’re saying.

“It’s very hard, especially for myself, I’m a character in that dressing room. I’m not quiet in that dressing room, I like to have the banter and to get stuck in, so very challenging. My advice to anyone would be, better out than in.”

Murray said he has been gradually coming out to people in his personal life since April.

“It has been a drip feed, telling close friends, family and then it got to a point recently where I had accepted it, but the only people who didn’t know were the football community,” he said.

“I did a lot of work on myself and decided that now is the time in 2022 to get that ball rolling and be a pillar in this community, one of the many that have come before me.”

Zander Murray hopes to ‘inspire’ others

Accepting himself and feeling ready to come out has been a “process” that has taken more than a year, Zander Murray said, but he is relieved that his colleagues have welcomed him with open arms, and even revealed that he has a boyfriend.

He continued: “Coming out is one thing, but then accepting it walking around with your queer friends… no one gives you a rule book on how you are going to feel in public. ‘Oh no, what if my football friends see me, what are they going to say?’, [that’s some of the worries I had] in my early stages of coming out.

“No one educates you on that and that was such a process.

“Walking with your boyfriend on the streets, that was so hard for me to really comprehend… However, I couldn’t have done this at a better time at a better club because the support has been incredible.”

Murray is the first senior Scottish player to come out, but English footballer Justin Fashanu also played for Airdrie and Hearts in the mid-1990s after he had already come out as gay.

Fashanu was the first senior British footballer in history, but after being hounded by the homophobic press, he tragically died by suicide.

Despit the dark history of homophobia in sport, the positive reaction to his coming out has left Murray feeling “overwhelmed, empowered, inspired”.

He said: “If I could inspire one person then it’s done its job.”