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