ON JUNE 29, 2018, Collin Martin wrote a tweet
heard ’round the world.
Martin, a professional soccer player, announced
via Twitter that he is gay. ;e 24-year-old midfielder grew up in Chevy Chase as a soccer prodigy.
At age 12, he moved to Ohio by himself to train for
18 months at a soccer academy owned by longtime
U.S. national team goalkeeper Brad Friedel. He later
attended Bethesda-Chevy Chase High School, spent
a year away at college, and then turned professional
in 2013. He was a member of D.C. United for four
seasons before being traded to Minnesota United
in January 2017.
In the public worlds of entertainment, media, the
arts—even politics—such an announcement barely
registers as news. Professional male sports are the
exception. Currently, there are about 4,430 male athletes playing professionally in Major League Baseball,
Major League Soccer, the NFL, the NBA and the
NHL. When Martin came out last summer on Pride
Night in Minneapolis—an event that celebrates the
LGBTQ community—he was alone in a;rming his
Robbie Rogers, a former University of Maryland
and professional soccer player, came out in 2013
but is now out of the game. Ditto Jason Collins,
who played in the NBA and retired in 2014. Most
recently, there was Michael Sam, who was drafted
and had a brief career in the NFL before retiring for
mental health reasons.
Martin, who has just earned an undergraduate degree in history from George Washington
University in D.C., is the next-to-youngest of five
siblings. He still has a journal that he kept during
fourth grade at Chevy Chase Elementary School. “I
want to be a professional soccer player,” he wrote at
the time, an ambition that never changed and was
finally fulfilled, even though it meant being away
from home at times for training and competing
against older boys.
Martin was raised in what he describes as a
supportive, loving and religious household. (His
family is Episcopalian.) His father, Gerard Martin,
is an eminent pediatric cardiologist with Children’s
National Health System in the District, and his
mother, Roberta, is a pastoral counselor. Still, his
parents were among the last people he told. Coming
out is still a fraught decision, even in a supposedly
enlightened era. For a professional athlete who has
to factor in teammates, coaches, owners and sponsors, the equation is even more complicated.
Bethesda Magazine spoke with Martin in November, during a break between soccer seasons, about
his decision to come out publicly and the tortuous,
emotional and courageous journey that he hopes
may inspire other young people.
The professional soccer player talks about high school life at B-CC, coming out
via Twitter, and being an openly gay male athlete in a major league sport
A CONVERSATION WITH
BY STEVE GOLDSTEIN | PHOTO BY EDGAR ARTIGA