Former Hyundai A-League player Andy Brennan wants to be the role model he never had after becoming Australia’s only openly-gay professional footballer.
Brennan, who played five Hyundai A-League matches for the Newcastle Jets across the 2015/16 and 2016/17 seasons, now runs out for Victorian outfit Green Gully in the National Premier Leagues.
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The 26-year-old came out in an Instagram post back in May, and revealed he feared he may not be accepted by coaches and teammates in a feature with ABC’s 7.30 Report on Tuesday.
Since making the call to be open about his sexuality, Brennan revealed his fellow players have embraced his decision.
“They were great, they were really good,” he said.
“Obviously it’s pretty scary because I’ve just joined the club.
“The relationships you develop are so important to you, and to think that they could just disown you, in a way, was a really scary thought - but there was literally none of that.
“It didn’t change anything.”
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Brennan admits he has grown up with homophobia as part of his life, but got to the stage where he could no longer push his feelings aside.
“I’d known for a really long time that it was something I just had to accept but I didn’t want to accept,” he added.
“I suppose playing football, it wasn’t really something you see that often and it wasn’t really something that I thought was ok or normal.
“Growing up in Tassie, there wasn’t any role models or anyone I could look up to and kind of say, that’s ok.”
But Brennan is determined to be there for others who are going through similar challenges.
“I think by speaking about my experience and telling people about how I’ve gone about the process, I think people can relate to it and hopefully feel better about themselves and hopefully get to a place where they can be happy and proud and not have to worry.”
And he revealed the experience has improved his life for the better.
“All this negativity was going on in my head and in my mind so, as soon as that was out, it kind of let me relax a bit more,” he said.
“I’m proud of it, I’m proud of who I am. I feel great and I feel happy.”
Andrew Purchas, from Pride in Sport, said: “When you see a fine, young man like Andy speak about his experiences so honestly, so passionately, he really connects to gay youth and hopefully will give them the confidence to follow what he’s done.”