ZANDER MURRAY BECOMES THE FIRST SCOTTISH SENIOR PLAYER TO COME OUT AS GAY TO 'INSPIRE' OTHER PLAYERS
Gala Fairydean Rovers striker Zander Murray has announced he is gay - making him the first Scottish senior player to do so. Murray, 30, who is in his fourth season with the club, will be the first openly gay footballer in Scottish men's professional footballer since Justin Fashanu played for Airdrie and Hearts in the mid-1990s, several years after announcing his sexuality.
His announcement followed that of referees Craig Napier and Lloyd Wilson who came out in June this year.
In an interview with the club, Murray said he wants to "help" other players who are struggling about opening up.
He said: "Firstly it feels like the weight of the world is now off my shoulders.
"The reason I have decided to this now is twofold firstly I was on holiday recently at a pride event and I have always been that closeted never to go to these things but I loved it.
"The vibe was brilliant and everyone was just being free and happy and it was great to just be me.
"I also want to help other players who are struggling with this as it isn't easy for men, especially footballers to deal with."
Murray would decline being tagged in social media posts in a bid to conceal who he really was and this was only due to the fact he played football.
He added: "Then I thought to myself 'what am I doing' this is playing havoc with my life.
"So at that moment I thought enough is enough.
"I put a post on my social media telling folk I was gay. I didn't need to sit the boys down in the changing room and tell them."
Murray, who holds the club's record for goals scores in a single season, believes more needs to be done to help men in the game who are gay to come out. With no role models or anyone to help he will now focus his attention on trying to help other players do the same. He added: "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.
"I would really like to look into and see what support can be given to other players to inspire them.
"In recent years Jake Daniels has come out and then Craig Napier and Lloyd Wilson who are both referees have done the same.
"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."
Murray hopes that one day players won't feel the need to come out and make statements and he hopes that men can be comfortable in being who they are.
He said: "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.
"Women's football is another ball game. They are completely diverse and open and this is something the men's game should aspire to be."
Following Zander's announcement club chairperson, Ryan Cass, said: "Everyone at the club is fully supportive of Zander and we are delighted for him that he feels comfortable to come out.
"Zander has shown great bravery and he has the club's full support and I am certain that he will get the support he deserves from all across the football family in Scotland."