10 openly gay footballers who play in professional leagues

The LGBTQ+ community has come a long way to be recognized in the football world, as it was considered a taboo subject by footballers and the media.

While openly gay entertainers enjoy their freedom of sexual expression, it is not the same for gay footballers, despite their small number.

What’s more, female LGBTQ+ footballers are widely embraced and experience less homophobic abuse than male gay footballers.

With homosexuality and the football world remaining a paradox, here are the ten openly gay footballers in the men’s and women’s football leagues.

1. Jake Daniels

 Jake Daniels when he signed his contract with Blackpool FC
Jake Daniels is one of the most popular gay footballers in England. Image: Instagram/officialjakedaniels
  • Position: Forward
  • Current Team: Blackpool
  • Previous Teams: Bamber Bridge (on loan)
  • Country of birth: England
  • Date of Birth: 8 January 2005

Jake Daniels is an English forward gay footballer at Blackpool and the youngest male footballer to come out as gay.

At only 17 years old, Daniels publicly came out as gay, making him the first active professional footballer to come out as gay since Justin Fashanu in 1990.

His coming out was praised by celebrities like the F.A. president Prince William, British Prime Minister Boris Johnson, and England captain Harry Kane.

In an Interview with Skysports, Daniels came out for the fans to know the real him and to be a role model to others who want to do the same.

At the 2023 Virgin Atlantic Attitude Awards, he won the Gamechanger Award hosted by British Gay magazine Attitude because of his courageous decision.

Despite his young age, the Engish footballer has handled the media frenzy that followed his coming out with grace and bravery.

2. Josh Cavallo

Josh Cavallo speaking
Josh Cavallo declared her sexuality via a post on social media. Image: X/MirrorFootball
  • Position: Left back, central midfielder
  • Current Team: Adelaide United
  • Previous Teams: Melbourne City NPL, Western United
  • Country of birth: Australia
  • Date of Birth: 13 November 1999

Josh Cavallo is among the famous gay footballers who publicly came out in October 2021 in an emotional open letter and heartfelt social media post.

In the statement, he expressed that he hoped by his coming out as gay, he would show others who are LGBTQ+ that they are welcome in the football community.

Since coming out, he has used his voice to speak out against FIFA’s decision to penalize players who wore the OneLove diversity armband at the 2022 FIFA World Cup.

The Australian footballer is also close friends with Thomas Beattie, a former English footballer who came out as gay after he retired from football.

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He stated that Beattie opened his eyes and made him courageous about coming out, a decision he is proud of to date.

3. Jakub Jankto

Jakub Jankto holding a pen
Jakub Jankto posted a moving video confirming his sexuality. Image: Instagram/ jakubjanktojr
  • Position: Midfielder, full-back
  • Current Team: Cagliari
  • Previous Teams: Udinese, Ascoli, Sampdoria, Getafe, Sparta Prague
  • Country of birth: Czech
  • Date of Birth: 19 January 1996

Jakub Jankto came out as gay in a public statement and a moving video on social media in February 2023.

The video entails him saying that he wanted to live in freedom, without fear, prejudice, or violence, but with love.

When he released the post to the public, he received positive messages and solidarity from his fans.

Sports Media LGBT+ founder Jon Holmes spoke about Jankto’s public release, saying the moment was:

History-making for the men’s game.

By doing so, the Czech player became the inaugural active senior international player to come out as gay publicly.

4. Collin Martin

Collin Martin playing
Collin Martin is among the few active gay footballers from the United States of America. Image: Instagram/cm7md
  • Position: Midfielder
  • Current Team: San Diego Loyal
  • Previous Teams: D.C. United, Richmond Kickers (loan), Minnesota United, Hartford Athletic
  • Country of birth: America
  • Date of Birth: 9 November 1994

Collin Martin is an American midfielder soccer player and among the few active male professional footballers who are gay in the United States.

He publicly came out as gay during Pride Month in 2018 while playing for Minnesota United.

Additionally, he stated that his friends, family, and teammates already knew his sexuality.

 He wanted to encourage the LGBTQ+ people who play or wish to play sports professionally to have confidence that the sport will welcome them wholeheartedly.

In an interview with ESPN, the American footballer stated that he wanted his clubs to want him as a soccer player and a person.

He also told the Daily Express that the reason why there is less LGQBT+ representation in football is that agents are “advising” footballers to stay in the closet.

Like Josh Cavallo, Cllin has also spoken up about the 2022 FIFA World Cup in Qatar and the FIFA board’s lack of concern for LGBTQ+ rights.

 He stated that the World Cup should be held in a progressive country willing to open doors to everyone.

5. Zander Murray

 Zander Murray smiling
Zander Murray. Image: Instagram/zandermurrayofficial
  • Position: Centre-Forward
  • Current Team: Bonnyrigg Rose
  • Previous Teams: Gala Fairydean Rovers F.C.
  • Country of birth: Scotland
  • Date of Birth: 2 November 1991

Zander Murray is the only male gay footballer in the Scottish Football League. Since coming out, Zander hopes to be a role model to younger footballers to be their true, authentic selves.

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In an interview with Stone Wall, he opens up about the connection between football and his sexuality and how difficult it has been since he came out as gay.

However, he still gets homophobic abuse daily but is driven by the passion of helping other male footballers who are struggling with their sexuality.

Despite the challenges he faces being gay, he is at peace with himself and has found a great community he stands up for and is an active member of.

He added that it is important that by coming out as gay, he ensures that no one experiences what he did and that all young LGBTQ+ people acknowledge that football is a place where they can actively and freely thrive.

6. Ellie Carpenter

Ellie Carpenter running
Ellie Carpenter has been vocal about her sexuality. Image: Instagram/elliecarpenterr
  • Position: Defender
  • Current Team: Lyon
  • Previous Teams: Western Sydney Wanderers, Canberra United, Portland Thorns, Melbourne City
  • Country of birth: Australia
  • Date of Birth: 28 April 2000

Ellie Carpenter is among the openly gay footballers and is currently dating her teammate Daniëlle van de Donk.

Ellie also plays for the Australian National Women’s team, which was named the gayest team in the 2023 Women’s World Cup.

The team had the highest representation of lesbian players among all teams in the tournament, with nine of its first-team players in same-sex relationships.

Ellie has won the Champions League twice and the French League thrice and was named PFA Women’s Footballer of the Year.

She visits eateries in Australia or exotic European locations when not on the pitch. Ellie and Danielle share posts of them travelling together for vacations and having a good time.

7. Sam Kerr

Sam Kerr celebrating
Sam Kerr is currently dating footballer Kristie Mewis. Image: Instagram/samanthakerr20
  • Position: Striker
  • Current Team: Chelsea
  • Previous Teams: Perth Glory, Sydney FC, Western New York Flash, Perth Glory, Sky Blue FC, Chicago Red Stars
  • Country of birth: Australia
  • Date of Birth: 10 September 1993

Sam Kerr plays as a Chelsea striker and is the Australian National Women’s team captain.

She is engaged to US footballer and fiancée Kristie Mewis (once rumoured to date Rachel Daly) after separating from her long-term partner, Chicago Red Stars footballer Nikki Stanton.

The Australian star made her relationship with Kristie public via an Instagram post of a Polaroid picture of the two kissing with Mewis sitting on Kerr’s lap.

Mewis also posted an Instagram snap of the two kissing on the poolside.

After two years of dating, Mewis got engaged to Kerr, with the former confirming the news wearing a diamond ring on an Instagram post.

The two are passionate about each other and share their relationship on social media to normalize “two girls in love.”

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8. Demi Stokes

Demi Stokes is an openly gay footballer who plays for Machester City
Demi Stokes is an openly gay footballer who plays for Machester City. Image: Instagram/ demistokes
  • Position: Left-back
  • Current Team: Manchester City
  • Previous Teams: Sunderland, Vancouver Whitecaps          
  • Country of birth: England
  • Date of Birth: 12 December 1991

Demi Stokes is a left-back player for Manchester City and the England National Women’s team.

She is engaged to her fiancée Katie Harrington, a physiotherapy assistant at NHS, and the couple have a child together through IVF.

After their son’s birth, Manchester City wrote about Demi’s venture into motherhood as the first player to become a mother while still active in professional football for the club.

Stokes is of Jamaican descent from her paternal side and is the 2009 UEFA Women’s Under-19 Championship and the UEFA Women’s Euro 2022.

She also explains that her decision to open up was because she wanted to make it easier for other LGBTQ+ couples and help other people in the same situation.

The Man City left-back often shares her family life on Instagram as they spend time together in England or other parts of the world. 

9. Sophie Ingle

Sophie Ingle sitting on grass
Sophie Ingle plays for Chelsea in the WSL. Image: Instagram/ingle08
  • Position: Defender, Midfielder
  • Current Team: Chelsea
  • Previous Teams: Cardiff City, Bristol Academy, Liverpool
  • Country of birth: Wales
  • Date of Birth: 2 September 1991

Sophie Ingle is a Welsh footballer and the Wales Women’s National Team captain. As a child, she wanted to play football and joined the boys’ team, Vale Wanderers, until she was 12.

Not only was she the only Welsh player in the Great Britain women’s Olympic football team in 2020, but she was appointed the OBE for services to the Association Football and holds 94 Wales caps.

As one of the proud and openly gay footballers in the Premier League, the Welsh footballer shared a photo on Instagram marrying her long-term partner and fiancée in June 2022.

She prefers to keep her relationship private and mostly posts football-related content on her Instagram.

10. Beth Mead

Beth Mead holding the BBC Women's Player of the Year 2022 trophy
Beth Mead, one of the most decorated female footballers, came out as lesbian. Image: Instagram/ bethmead_
  • Position: Forward
  • Current Team: Arsenal
  • Previous Teams: Sunderland
  • Country of birth: England
  • Date of Birth: 9 May 1995

Beth Mead is among the openly gay footballers and is in a relationship with teammate Vivianne Miedema, with whom she was nominated for the 2022 Ballon d’Or.

Beth is an English forward for Arsenal and England Women’s National Team. She is a 2022 BBC Sports Personality of the Year winner and 2022 Arsenal Player of the Season.

Before her current relationship, she was in a relationship with former Arsenal teammate Daniëlle van de Donk during the lockdown.

Mead and Miedema are partners on and off the pitch as they are goal scorers in the Gunners and Lionness Team, with the latter being a prolific goal scorer in the Women’s Super League.

When opening up about her love life, Beth said that she didn’t know many people who were openly gay or bisexual where she grew up.

Her sexuality was hard for her parents to accept, and it was hard for her to express openly. However, Beth is now happy with her life and often shares her relationship with her partner on social media.

Mead jokes that she and Miedema are the David and Victoria Beckham of the women’s football.

She inspires many aspiring female footballers and leads the way for women and the LGBTQ+ community into football in England.

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