Soccer star Michelle Heyman shares her coming out story

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Michelle Heyman is a professional soccer player who starred on the Australian team in the 2015 World Cup and plays for the Western New York Flash in the National Women’s Soccer League. She’s also a member of the Canberra United in Australia’s W-League. Michelle shared her story with us in honor of National Coming Out Day.

Portland Thorns FC v Western New York Flash

Coming out for me was easier than what I thought. I heard stories of how hard some people had it when they came out, but for myself it made me actually free. It made me finally see the world how I always imagined it. I didn’t have to lie to family, my friends, and myself anymore. I could finally be me, which made me who I am today.

I always knew I had a different view on life than my friends. I was attracted to the same sex and I didn’t know how to actually deal with that, as I wasn’t exposed to it. I kept my feelings a secret and tried to be like everyone else, so I dated boys. I went through school with a boyfriend up until year 12, when I decided it was time to finally act on these feelings I had. 

I came out to my family when I was 18, and they have supported me from day one. I think it was a hard for them to hear, but being loving parents they did the right thing and let me be me. Without their support, my life could be very different. At the beginning I was judged, but over time people started to see how happy I was; how I was finally being myself. Not everyday is easy! Not everyone is supportive. But you learn to ignore those who don’t understand your happiness.

Being “out” as a professional athlete was simple for myself. From the day I told my parents, I could be comfortable in my skin. I would never hide who I am, and I think that is what makes me so confident within myself.

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Was I a little nervous to hear people judging me on being gay? In the beginning, yes! But I never let it get to me, because I was finally happy. And no one was going to ruin that for me.

As athletes, we are role models for younger children, and I will do everything to be the best role model I can be. I’ve received emails, messages, and comments on how I’ve helped other people be true to themselves. Now this is something that I will cherish forever.

I know every coming out story is different, but coming out is a lot easier than staying in. It might not seem like that at the start, but within time you will always have to be true to yourself. Be confident in your skin.

Follow Michelle on Twitter (@11heyman) and Instagram (@heyman11).