Head on over the SB Nation’s Longform page and read Leander Schaerlaecken’s terrific story, ”Out of Bounds”, which details the experience of professional soccer player David Testo, who came out of the closet last year and now finds himself unemployed by the game:
In Vancouver a funny thing happened in the locker room. As David got comfortable with himself his teammates became comfortable with him. The less he hid – without ever being openly gay – the more the bubble grew and the easier life got. They stopped asking and he stopped having to pretend.
Midway through 2007, he was traded to the Montreal Impact – still a USL club at the time – in a lop-sided deal for an old favorite of the Whitecaps’ coach. Suddenly finding himself living in a city with the largest gay neighborhood on the continent, he partied like never before and played well when he wasn’t injured. After a few years, his sexuality was an open secret. Everybody on the club knew. Nobody seemed to mind. For the first time, he became close to his teammates. He could talk to them about his boyfriend and find a sympathetic ear. The locker room, to his surprise, became an easier place to be. Rather than pop, the bubbles joined to form a bigger one.
Opponents knew, too, and at first called him every gay slur imaginable. David was furious, but eventually started deflecting their comments, comfortable as he finally was with himself. He’d realized he could fight homophobia on the field by showing himself to be just as much of a man and soccer player as anyone else. He would help his antagonists off the ground after he tackled them. “I saw certain players change their whole perspective,” he says.
This one is a keeper.
[Photo Credit: Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images]