David Testo, the 1998-99 Gatorade North Carolina Boys Soccer Player of the Year, revealed Thursday to CBC Radio-Canada that he is gay. He became the first former Major League Soccer player to come out of the closet.
"It's like carrying around a secret, you know, and carrying around luggage and just never being allowed to be yourself," Testo told the Canadian radio station.
Testo, who led the University of North Carolina to the 2001 NCAA Division I national championship, has played professionally for the Richmond Kickers, Columbus Crew, Vancouver Whitecaps and, most recently, the Montreal Impact, a franchise scheduled to join MLS in 2012. Testo is currently without a contract.
Testo, 30, told CBC Radio that his teammates were all aware of his sexual orientation and accepted him.
A prep star at T.C. Roberson (Asheville, N.C.), Testo played his first two collegiate seasons at South Carolina before transferring to Chapel Hill, where he twice earned All-ACC Second Team honors, scoring 11 goals and 6 assists as a junior, and seven goals and nine assists as a senior.
This past May, Phoenix Suns president and chief executive Rick Welts publicly disclosed he is gay. Former NBA player John Amaechi made a similar announcement in 2007. Amaechi has been outspoken -- particularly on the subject of Britain’s Football Association -- about professional sports leagues actively creating an environment and culture more conducive to players feeling safer about coming out.
British soccer player Justin Fashanu came out in 1990 (and remains the only FA player to do so) before committing suicide in 1998. In 2009, recently retired Welch Rugby star Gareth Thomas became the first rugby union player to disclose his sexual orientation. Actor Mickey Rourke is planning to bring more attention to the issue with a forthcoming film about Thomas’s life.