It’s no small secret there are scores of closeted athletes weighing their desire to live openly against the very real professional backlash that can come with coming out, and now one more former pro has revealed he’s gay.

Adam McCabe has been a professional and semi-professional soccer player for teams in England, Thailand and Slovakia. He currently plays for a semi-pro team in the National Premier Soccer League in Atlanta, the Georgia Revolution. And yeah, he also happens to be a model — no big deal.

He’s shared his moving coming out story in an essay on Meanwhiler:

While I was playing soccer at a younger age, I was not out to my teammates. I did not really even think about my sexuality until the end of high school and beginning of college (around 19 years old).

Soccer was the most important thing; it was all that I thought about. I lived, breathed, ate and slept soccer. And I was not going to let anything, like a relationship or my sexuality, get in the way of my goals and dreams.

It’s a struggle that all gay pro athletes face — keep quiet and try to compete to the highest level or your sport, or shine the spotlight on yourself by coming out.

One potential solution to the problem? Power in numbers.

The chairman of the Football Association in England has been in talks with top-level closeted athletes and is encouraging them to come out as a group, hoping to scatter the spotlight effect and keep the focus on the sport. It’s a nice idea, really.

For McCabe, keeping quiet wasn’t always easy.

The language that is used during practice, in the locker room, and on the pitch is extremely masculine and at times vulgar.

I have heard teammates use homophobic language both in the soccer realm and in daily life. It causes you to really pay attention to your surroundings and debate every action as a closeted athlete.

I was afraid to share my sexuality based off of what I had heard my teammates say. Whether joking or not, these words are cemented in your brain and they shape the way you act towards and around your teammates.

But he says he never quite felt “whole” while hiding part of his identity.

Speaking to Outsports, he said:

I have grown and changed so much since my move back and now I am at a place to help other LGBTQ athletes who may be struggling.

If I can help at least one individual who needs guidance, support, or even a friend to speak with, I’m here.

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