Zander Murray is a professional footballer and striker for Gala Fairydean Rovers. In 2022, he made history as the first Scottish senior football player to come out as gay.
Murray was met with support from his peers, the wider LGBTQ+ community, and fans – but perhaps more importantly, he began to hear from young football fans who said his honesty had helped them feel free to be themselves, too.
Inspirational behaviour aside, he’s also quite the hottie.
Zander. Hi. Let’s get the big stuff out the way first. Why is Scotland the best part of the U.K.?
The people! everyone walking around in kilts eating porridge what’s not to love!
I am biased though, and Glasgow is best! Never a dull moment, it’s so friendly and everyone has a few stories to tell.
Any city in Scotland, you won’t be far from a Loch or a Munro (Scottish mountain), so you can easily get away from the hustle and bustle.
Your coming out story had a huge, positive impact – in so many ways. Probably ways you’re not even aware of yet. What were your biggest concerns before coming out and what made you do it anyway?
Awww, thank you. It has been a whirlwind and I never anticipated the reach it would have, or how quickly. I came out in April of 2021 to my closest Judy’s (yes, I love Drag Race) and family. Then it was kind of a slow, drip-fed process – up until last month.
It came to a point where it was only the football community that didn’t know.
Of course, the inner saboteur takes over when you’re in the closet! Internalised homophobia was tough, even when I wasn’t out. I worked so hard to sit my demons down and have a nice cup of Scottish tea and porridge with them.
Before telling the footballing community, I was conflicted. I worried some of the strong bonds I’d made might disappear, but also knew that I could add to the progress made by trailblazing sports people before me.
Fast-forward to now, it’s the best decision I ever made, and I’m so glad that my story is connecting with and inspiring others.
Growing up, did you ever feel like football and being gay were just never going to be able to coexist compatibly? How did you see it all playing out?
I just had no role models or much visibility to speak of when I was growing up. Which is a huge driving force in why I now want to help make sure the younger generation don’t experience that. I’ll do everything I can, when my busy schedule allows!
Would it have made a big difference to you, if you’d been able to see more out players?
Yes, 100%. Rather than hating myself or being terrified of anyone finding out. Today the game is changing, thanks to trailblazers like Jake Daniel’s, Josh Cavallo, and those before them. Also, thanks to there now being more allies now within the game, that helps people feel comfortable being their true self.
Have you experienced any negativity – on or off the pitch – since coming out? Does it ever worry you?
Nothing in regard to opposition, teammates, fans or face-to-face. Twitter an app I’m fairly new to, and it can be a horrible place at times. I’ve received some hate mail and had the odd troll.
Countless studies have shown that anti-LGBTQ+ language at football matches is common, in some cases even considered acceptable because it is “only meant as banter”. And yet, a large number of LGBT+ people report they don’t feel completely safe at football matches. How do we overcome this barrier?
It’s a tough question to tackle, but more effective education is what’s needed. It needs to be a clear message that homophobia is unacceptable. How do we do that? Fan engagement! Exactly what that looks like, I’m not yet sure, but I definitely want to be part of the conversation in helping.
Virgin Radio Pride aired a documentary this year about LGBT+ football fan groups. It explored the culture of queer football fans grouping together so they could enjoy the game. In some cases, people said that kind of safe access was lifesaving. Are you aware of groups like this?
Yes, and I’ve engaged with many so far in my journey at steering groups and conferences. I definitely feel they have an impact and help break the stigma.
You’ve obviously made a huge impact yourself. Which other public figures – LGBTQ+ or allies – do you look up to? Who is being a great voice right now?
Ah thank you, that means the world! How long you got? Leah Williamson, Lucy Bronze, Tom Daley, Matt Lucas, Amy McDonald (Rangers coach), Jon Holmes, Jack Murley, Josh Cavallo, Thomas Beattie, Anton Hysen, Lloyd Wilson.
If you could send a message to any younger queer people who love sport but worry they don’t fit in. What are you saying?
You’re not going to fit in with the status quo and that is bloody MARVELLOUS. Accept and love you for the amazing human being you are. You have amazing role models across all sports, do not give up what you love. #AcceptYourself, because once you do, it all makes sense! Much love, Z x
Name: Arisce WanzerPronouns: she/ herInstagram: @ariscestocrat Arisce Wanzer is a model, actress and influencer, who made history as the first trans covergirl to appear on the Spiegel Catalog Wanzer has appeared on reality shows and in publications like Elle, Vogue and Vogue Italia. Arisce. Hi. Let’s start light. What's on your agenda for today?
Hi there! I had to make a birthday video...
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