At­lanta semi-pro soc­cer player em­braces be­ing role model af­ter pen­ning com­ing out es­say

GA Voice - - Outspoken -

By DIONNE WALKER

When Adam McCabe, a mid­fielder for our very own semi-pro soc­cer team The Ge­or­gia Revo­lu­tion FC, took the field ear­lier this month, he did so as a re­newed man. For one, he’ll have a boyfriend cheer­ing him on. He’ll have the sat­is­fac­tion of a blos­som­ing sales ca­reer off the field. But best of all, he’ll be able to take pride in the knowl­edge that as an out ath­lete, he’s set­ting an ex­am­ple for fans look­ing to see some­one like them­selves in the ath­letic spot­light.

The At­lanta-born, Tal­la­hasee, Flori­daraised for­mer over­seas pro­fes­sional player joined the wave of out ath­letes, com­ing out in a poignant first-per­son es­say pub­lished on­line this past De­cem­ber. In it, he de­tailed years of con­fu­sion and iso­la­tion as he strug­gled to bal­ance the first love of his life – soc­cer – with his bur­geon­ing iden­tity as a gay man.

“It was a mix of me try­ing to de­fine my­self even fur­ther – yeah I played soc­cer and I had a full-time job and I had my boyfriend. Life is great – but there’s got to be more,” McCabe said of his de­ci­sion to come out. “I thought, ‘How can I im­pact At­lanta? How can I im­pact my com­mu­nity?’”

It was a 180-de­gree shift for McCabe, who spent two decades hid­ing in the su­per-ma­cho arena of pro soc­cer. That world, he said, con­sisted of het­ero-fo­cused locker room ban­ter and anti-gay jokes that made it very clear he was not in a safe space to be out and proud – es­pe­cially when he was play­ing in Europe.

The pres­sure of hid­ing even­tu­ally got to him: In March 2015, af­ter stints in Eng­land, Thai­land and Slo­vakia, McCabe be­came dis­il­lu­sioned with the game and moved back to the states, land­ing in At­lanta. It was here, while play­ing on a lo­cal team, that McCabe made peace with his iden­tity and de­cided to make his sex­u­al­ity pub­lic.

April 28, 2017

Now, in ad­di­tion to soc­cer player and blos­som­ing LGBT ad­vo­cate, McCabe, 25, is proud to add role model to his re­sume.

“I just thought, if the 19- or 20-year-old Adam had some­one he could have reached out to about be­ing gay, I think I would still be play­ing pro­fes­sion­ally over­seas,” he said. “I thought, I didn’t re­ally have that per­son, maybe I can be that per­son.”

Life has to be pretty busy for you right now. What do your days look like?

Grow­ing up, I was ac­cus­tomed to ho­mo­sex­u­al­ity be­ing looked down upon, so for me, the fo­cus was all on soc­cer. I never re­ally dated much. Then, when I went to a lib­eral arts school [Vas­sar Col­lege] and started get­ting hit on by guys, I re­al­ized I liked it. It scared me in a sense, so when I left to go play

I went to Thai­land and played for a few months, then to Slo­vakia. I was kind of search­ing for a place where I could be my­self and be out and open and play pro­fes­sional soc­cer. But I kept on find­ing my­self even more locked away. In Slo­vakia, I hit a break­ing point. I lost my love for soc­cer. All I was think­ing was, am I gonna be clos­eted my whole life?

That led you back to At­lanta, where

The re­al­ity is a gay ath­lete still knows that even though peo­ple say they wouldn’t have an is­sue with it, there still is this huge un­known. There’s so much me­dia at­ten­tion that would come with com­ing out – that scares so many play­ers from do­ing it in their prime.

What, then, has made it worth­while for you?

I’ve had one pro­fes­sional ath­lete come out to me right be­fore I came out and also have heard from peo­ple across the US telling me I’m giv­ing them courage. It’s nice to know that you can kind of help peo­ple but also give them some hope for their fu­ture.

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