Footballer Zander Murray still ‘learning how to be gay’ a year after coming out

Photo of Zander Murray with a teammate's arm draped around him

Scotland’s first out gay pro male footballer Zander Murray says he is in “such a good place” a year after coming out publicly.

Striker Murray, who came out in September 2022, moved from Lowland League club Gala Fairydean Rovers in January to League Two side Bonnyrigg Rose, becoming the only out gay footballer in Scotland’s top four male divisions. 

Murray is the first out gay professional in Scottish men’s football since Justin Fashanu, who played for Hearts and Airdrieonians in the 1990s. 

Speaking to The Scottish Sun on Sunday (1 October), Murray admitted he’s “learning how to be gay at 31” and has been overwhelmed by the support he’s received since coming out.

“I had no gay education growing up or in school. I’m still getting there with it. It’s been so difficult for such a long period,” the forward said.

“I have been to such dark, dark places.”

You may like to watch

Murray joked that the only stick he gets from teammates and opposition players is about his fake tan. 

‘I’m in such a good place’

“They’ll take the p**s and tell me: ‘You’re never off the telly’. It sounds cheesy but it’s true. I’m in such a good place.”

The striker hopes to inspire queer youngsters by giving talks about discrimination in schools.

“Things have changed a lot since I grew up in the east end of Glasgow. I knew I was gay [at] the age of 12 and there was nobody like me playing football.

“I’m going into schools and companies doing talks about discrimination. It’s really rewarding.” 

Schoolchildren are now “much more open, accepting and compassionate”, he added. 

“I’ve been getting all these letters from people young and old who have been struggling. They’re telling me they’re now living as their true authentic selves. It means the world to me.”

‘I was so scared about being gay’  

Murray said that accepting himself has made him a better player and suggested it would help others too. 

“Being able to be yourself without limits lifts so much of the pressure. I had multiple offers when I was younger to play at a higher level but I just couldn’t do it because I was so scared about being gay. For young players, being able to come out will definitely improve your game.”

But Murray’s journey to self-acceptance hasn’t been an easy one, battling mental-health issues along the way. 

The struggles were caused, at least in part, by “fighting something that you’re just meant to be”, he told PinkNews in March.

“It came to a point that I was in a relationship with a woman and knew deep down, that’s enough, I can’t put myself through this again,” he said at the time.

Murray’s BBC documentary, Disclosure: Out on the Pitch, aired in March and acknowledged how much has changed in football in the past 20 years, but also showed that there’s still work to be done.