German Chancellor Angela Merkel Expresses Support for Anonymous Gay Footballer Afraid to Come Out

A gay German pro footballer, in an interview with the web publication Fluter, said that he's afraid to come out of the closet for fear of his safety, prompting a response from Chancellor Angela Merkel.

Said the footballer:

"The price I pay for living my dream as a Bundesliga player is high. I have to be an actor every day and go into self-denial. Unlike other celebrities, football players have to follow the footballer stereotype. They have to love sports, fight aggressively and be a role model at the same time. And gays don't follow that formula. I would not be safe any more if my sexuality was made public. I know of other Bundesliga players who are gay as well. We don't meet – it would just be too noticeable. It is a difficult parallel universe which continues inside the team. We don't talk about it much, nevertheless everyone knows about it. They sometimes ask me about my partner. I know all their stories from the papers, but they have to ask me to find out."

ESPN reports:

The player, who spoke to Fluter, said he, along with several other players in Germany's top division, is gay and explained: "I have to be an actor every day and go into self-denial."

His remarks led Merkel, speaking at a press conference in Berlin, to say: "You need not fear. I am of the opinion that everyone who has the strength and courage [to come out] should know that we live in a state where he essentially does not have to be fearful. That is my political statement."

The NYT adds:

He said he felt compelled to “put on an act and deny his true self” to square his public image with the expectations of fans, who are after a “stereotype of masculinity.” He also said the news media circus all but certain to ensue in the first few weeks after the first coming out of an active player was a major deterrent to going public.

Image: a German campaign fighting homophobia in sports featured two players kissing, and read: “Would you also beat up your favorite player for this?”