Zander Murray becomes first out gay player in 30 years to sign for top Scottish team

Zander Murray in front of an LGBTQ flag

Striker Zander Murray has become the only openly gay footballer in Scotland’s top four divisions after moving clubs. 

The 31-year-old player – who came out in September last year – has joined League Two side Bonnyrigg Rose on a permanent move from Lowland League club Gala Fairydean Rovers. 

Murray is the first openly gay player in Scottish men’s professional football since Justin Fashanu, who played with Hearts and Airdrieonians in the mid-1990s. 

The forward started his footballing career in the youth academies of Motherwell and Airdrie, before playing with Broxburn and Pumpherston and then moving to Gala Fairydean Rovers in 2019. 

With Murray in the squad, Rovers sealed their highest-ever league finish in 2021 before reaching the East of Scotland Qualifying Cup final last season.

On his move to the Rose, Murray said: “I’ve played against Rose for many, many years so I know the squad, what the club is about, the fans, everyone connected to the club, and the management team.

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“I’ve been a long admirer. There have been a couple of occasions that I possibly could’ve had an opportunity to come to the Rose but, for whatever reason, it’s not worked out.

“I’m absolutely delighted to come on board now. I’m just buzzing to join the Rosey Posey. What a club. I’m now looking forward to getting onto that pitch.”

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In September 2022, Murray became the first Scottish senior footballer to come out as gay.

His announcement followed referees Craig Napier and Lloyd Wilson, who came out in June 2022. 

In an interview with his club at the time, the striker said he felt like the “weight of the world is now off my shoulders” and hoped one day players would not need to come out at all. 

“The lads at the club have been so supportive. I have a really strong bond with everyone at the club and I have been blown away by the support. 

“Before coming out you think people will turn against you and you think the worst. 

“It’s been lovely how much support I have had. 

“I have done lots of research and I always keep an eye on media outlets to see if there are any platforms for young gay male footballers for support but there are none. 

Murray said he wanted to “look into” what support could be given to other players who may also want to come out.

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“Of course there are gay footballers in our game and I have had lots of players get in touch saying they have read my post and they can’t believe how strong I am by doing this,” he said. 

Footballer Zander Murray in action on the pitch
Footballer Zander Murray has been inundated with support after coming out as gay. (SNS Group via Getty/ Craig Brown)

He added: “It can be difficult and you can feel very alone. I knew I was different for many years but with other people in the game coming out it’s been amazing. 

“Hopefully the SFA can work with other leagues and partners and look at support and drive how we help other players.

“That support is greatly needed in the men’s game.”

After he came out, the footballer also spoke with LGBTQ+ charity Stonewall and described the conflict he felt between his sexuality and football, as well as the pride he now feels. 

He told Stonewall: “Football has been my life and soul since I could walk. 

“Whilst growing up, unfortunately I felt my life in football and my sexuality could not coexist. I felt that I needed to keep it hidden and fight against it for years which resulted in numerous missed opportunities and internal struggle. 

“Fortunately, I am now at peace with myself and more importantly I have found an amazing community that I want to stand up for and be an active ally for. 

“It is now really important that I play my part to ensure no one experiences what I did and that all young LGBT+ people know that football and any other sport is a place where they can thrive. 

“Although my experience was difficult, I am proud to be visible and I am excited to work with Stonewall to be involved in making sports a place for all.”

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