Minnesota United midfielder Collin Martin took to social media ahead of the team’s Pride celebrations Friday to publicly declare he is gay.
The 23-year-old, who started his professional soccer career with DC United as a teenager in 2013, followed in the footsteps of former LA Galaxy forward Robbie Rogers in declaring his sexuality in public.
He would be the only openly gay male athlete currently playing in a major professional U.S. sports league.
“Tonight my team, Minnesota United, is having their Pride night. It’s an important night for me – I’ll be announcing that I am an openly gay player in Major League Soccer,” Martin wrote in a lengthy statement on Twitter. “I have been out as a gay man for many years to my family and friends, and this includes my team-mates.”
He continued: “As we celebrate Pride night, I want to thank my team-mates for their unconditional support of who I am. In light of my experience as a professional athlete, I want to take this moment to encourage others who play sports professionally or otherwise to have confidence that sport will welcome them wholeheartedly.”
In their match against FC Dallas on Friday, Minnesota United will mark the night by wearing jerseys with rainbow-colored numbers.
Rogers, who publicly announced he was gay in 2013 and retired from professional soccer in 2016, said Martin’s coming out was “so, so inspiring.”
“Good luck this season, except again the @LAGalaxy,” he wrote in a tweet.
Former Brooklyn Nets star Jason Collins came out as gay during the 2012-2013 NBA season. He was the first publicly gay athlete to play in any of the four major North American pro sports leagues.
Aside from Martin, there are currently no other publicly gay athletes playing in the NFL, NBA, NHL or MLB.