David Testo made headlines earlier this month when he came out publicly as gay, the first North American professional soccer player to do so openly. A one-time team MVP for the Montreal Impact, Testo was released by the new MLS club recently. Testo, who starred at the University of North Carolina and played 33 games for MLS's Columbus Crew in 2004-05, also played for the Vancouver Whitecaps and Richmond Kickers. He won the USL title with Montreal in 2009.
Test told Nick Firchau what inspired him to come out: "There have been a lot of things going on in Canada recently, and I’ve heard a lot about these gay teen suicides. One guy here named Jamie Hubley just committed suicide a month ago and he was a 15-year-old figure skater, and I really haven’t been able to get that out of my head. Things started making more sense and pointing in the right direction to do this, and I’m completely comfortable with myself. It just made sense to step up and try to help someone else.
"When you make this statement, you have to be in a place in your life where you can take on a lot more than your own private stuff. And when I did this, I weighed the pros and the cons, and the pros were just so much greater. There are a lot of people out there struggling. It can’t be that I’ve played professional soccer for 10 years and not known one other gay player. You just have to imagine all the guys out there struggling with the same issue, and maybe if I take this step, it will create some kind of moment of change. And the more people who can do it, the more we can normalize this issue."
Testo had come out to his mother in 2007 and to some of his teammates before his public announcement: "I had just developed very good relationships, and I got tired of substituting 'her' for 'him.' And I got to a point where I told one person and got really positive feedback on it and a lot of support, and the closer those friendships got and the more friendships I built, the more trust I developed in them, and the more open I became. I think the word spread fast, but I never knew who knew. It was always very complicated because I knew I had told some of the guys, but it was hard talking to people when I didn’t know who knew or cared."