Arsenal Ladies & England women's footballer Casey Stoney comes out as gay | inside World Soccer

Casey Stoney, a defender for the England women's football team and the Arsenal Ladies, has, for the first time, spoken openly about being gay.

With 116 caps to her name, Casey Stoney is the most high-profile active gay footballer in England
With 116 caps to her name, Casey Stoney is the most high-profile active gay footballer in England

Photo: Getty Images

The 31-year-old had taken the decision to come out after former Germany international Thomas Hitzlsperger came out as gay and Olympic diver Tom Daley revealed he was in a relationship with a man.

"I was living a lie," Stoney, who has 116 caps for England, told BBC Sport.

"I've never hidden it within football circles because it is accepted. But to the outside world, I've never spoken about my sexuality

"I feel it's really important for me to speak out as a gay player because there are so many young people struggling with being gay.

"You hear about people taking their own lives because they're homosexual, now that should never happen. They should never feel those pressures.

"How can I expect other people to come out and speak about themselves if I'm not willing to do that myself?

"Now is the time because I'm in a loving relationship where I feel strong, I feel safe and I don't care what other people think any more."

Olympian Daley received a deluge of goodwill messages after announcing he was in a gay relationship last December.

Stoney added: "I looked at the response that Tom Daley got and the incredible positive response that he got and I thought 'wow, the world is changing' and it's time for me to stand up and tell my side of the story.

"If I can help other people in some way shape or form feel more comfortable or feel at ease with themselves then this is what this is all about, this is the bigger picture."

Casey Stoney poses with the 2013 Club England Team of the Year award
Casey Stoney poses with the 2013 Club England Team of the Year award

Photo: Getty Images

Stoney, who captained England at Euro 2013 and donned the armband for Team GB at the 2012 Olympics, went on to explain how fear had prevented her from discussing her sexuality before now.

She continued: "For the last 10 years I've always cared too much what other people think.

"I was frightened of the stereotypes, frightened of being judged, frightened of what other people might say, especially the abuse you can get through social media.

"But I think I'm in a place where I feel so comfortable in my own skin, I feel so loved by the person I'm with, that I feel I can face anything.

"In the past, I made up lies about having a boyfriend or acted a certain way because I felt like that's how I had to act and be accepted by the modern world.

"But I wasn't happy doing that, because I was always lying, and lying to myself as well."

Russia will host the World Cup in 2018 and Stoney said she would not be going to the tournament unless there is a change in attitudes.

She said: "I won't be going to Russia or Qatar to watch a World Cup because I wouldn't be accepted there.

"I think it's incredible that these countries get World Cups and Olympics when they don't accept everybody to go there and be part of it.

"There will be (Olympic) athletes competing out (in Sochi) who are gay. I can't imagine how frightened they must feel going out there and competing.

"When Russian President Vladimir Putin says that gay people can come over but please don't go near the children, what sort of message is that sending if he is that uneducated and he's ruling that country? It seriously worries me.

"It's about educating the people at the top, all the way down."

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