England captain Casey Stoney reveals she was concerned by social media reaction but has been 'overwhelmed' by positive response after speaking openly about being gay

The Arsenal ladies defender says she was inspired by Tom Daley

England football captain Casey Stoney says she has been overwhelmed by support after speaking for the first time about her “loving relationship” with another woman.

The decision to go public makes the Arsenal defender the most high-profile active footballer in the country who is openly gay. Stoney, 31, said that she was inspired by the positive response to Olympic diver Tom Daley telling the world about his happy relationship with a man.

The footballer first went public about her sexuality in the Independent on Sunday Pink List in 2012, after captaining Great Britain’s women’s team in the Olympics. Whilst she was happy to be included on a list of Britain’s most inspirational LGBT people, she chose not to speak to the media about it until now.

“I was living a lie”, she told BBC Sport in an interview broadcast on Monday. “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 people struggling who are gay, and you hear about people taking their own lives because they are homosexual. That should never happen.”

She said it was “incredible” that countries with homophobic laws such as Qatar and Russia were allowed to host international sporting events. "I won't be going to Russia or Qatar to watch a World Cup because I wouldn't be accepted there," she said.

"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 Russia] who are gay. I can't imagine how frightened they must feel going out there and competing.”

Speaking to The Independent after the interview was broadcast, she said: “The response has made me quite emotional. I didn’t know what to expect but it’s been so overwhelmingly positive. I’d say I’ve had about a thousand tweets today and maybe one wasn’t positive.”

Gary Lineker and Stan Collymore are amongst the former professional players who have congratulated her since the news broke.

Stoney met her partner through football and she says they have been together for almost three years. She was one of the people encouraged Stoney to go public: “I sat down with my partner a long time ago and she said ‘I don’t understand why you won’t go public because all the people that love you and matter in your life already know’. But I had to feel comfortable in my own skin.”

Fears of abuse on social media held her back from being open in the past, she says. “I was worried about people judging and the abuse you can get over social media. I think social media can be used in a positive way but by going on it you open yourself up to people being able to say what they want. Some people say disgusting things to people on Twitter and I was afraid of that. There are still bigots in this country.”

Another factor which made her worried about speaking publicly about her sexuality was that she was concerned it would confirm stereotypes about female players. “The thing that frustrates me about women’s football is that because it’s deemed a male, masculine sport there’s an assumption that all the players are lesbians, but that’s not the case”, she said. “I’m not gay because I play football.

“I hate these stereotypes and that’s something that concerned me in the past [when thinking about coming out]. That people would say she plays football so she must be gay anyway. I’ve got so many friends in football who could not be any more heterosexual.”

Stoney believes the higher profile of the men’s game and its macho culture makes it harder to for male players come out. “We’re not as high profile so we don’t have 50,000 people who could abuse you every Saturday. Women’s football is a bit more of a family culture.”

Growing up in London, the defender got her first break playing for Chelsea Ladies when she was just 12. Now she has 116 caps for England and Great Britain.

She came 50th in the 2012 Pink list, moving up to 37th place last year after winning FA Player of the Year for a second time and writing columns advocating tolerance and diversity within sport.

In an interview with The Independent on Sunday the week before the Olympics she hinted at her sexuality. She said her partner would be attending her debut game at London 2012, adding: “I’m one person on the outside but a different person on the inside and very few people get to know what’s going on on the inside. That’s about trusting people enough to let them see that.”

Suggested Topics
Voices
Lucerne’s Hotel Château Gütsch, one of the lots in our Homeless Veterans appeal charity auction
charity appeal
Arts and Entertainment
Tony Hughes (James Nesbitt) after his son Olly disappeared on a family holiday in France
tv
News
people

Jo from Northern Ireland was less than impressed by Russell Brand's attempt to stage a publicity stunt

Sport
Scunthorpe goalkeeper Sam Slocombe (left) is congratulated by winning penalty taker Miguel Llera (right)
football
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
The Apprentice candidates Roisin Hogan, Solomon Akhtar, Mark Wright, Bianca Miller, Daniel Lassman
tvReview: But which contestants got the boot?
Life and Style
A woman walks by a pandal art installation entitled 'Mars Mission' with the figure of an astronaut during the Durga Puja festival in Calcutta, India
techHow we’ll investigate the existence of, and maybe move in with, our alien neighbours
Arts and Entertainment
Jim Carrey and Jeff Daniels ride again in Dumb and Dumber To
filmReview: Dumb And Dumber To was a really stupid idea
Arts and Entertainment
Sir Ian McKellen tempts the Cookie Monster
tvSir Ian McKellen joins the Cookie Monster for a lesson on temptation
News
i100
Travel
Tourists bask in the sun beneath the skyscrapers of Dubai
travelBritish embassy uses social media campaign to issue travel advice for festive holiday-makers in UAE
Arts and Entertainment
Jennifer Saunders stars as Miss Windsor, Dennis's hysterical French teacher
filmJennifer Saunders and Kate Moss join David Walliams on set for TV adaptation of The Boy in the Dress
Life and Style
tech
Sport
Nabil Bentaleb (centre) celebrates putting Tottenham ahead
footballTottenham 4 Newcastle 0: Spurs fans dreaming of Wembley final after dominant win
Voices
Jimmy Mubenga died after being restrained on an aircraft by G4S escorts
voicesJonathan Cox: Tragedy of Jimmy Mubenga highlights lack of dignity shown to migrants
Life and Style
Sebastian Siemiatkowski is the 33-year-old co-founder and CEO of Klarna, which provides a simple way for people to buy things online
tech
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Day In a Page

Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton: The power dynamics of the two first families

Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton

Karen Tumulty explores the power dynamics of the two first families
Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley with a hotbed of technology start-ups

Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley

The Swedish capital is home to two of the most popular video games in the world, as well as thousands of technology start-ups worth hundreds of millions of pounds – and it's all happened since 2009
Did Japanese workers really get their symbols mixed up and display Santa on a crucifix?

Crucified Santa: Urban myth refuses to die

The story goes that Japanese store workers created a life-size effigy of a smiling "Father Kurisumasu" attached to a facsimile of Our Lord's final instrument of torture
Jennifer Saunders and Kate Moss join David Walliams on set for TV adaptation of The Boy in the Dress

The Boy in the Dress: On set with the stars

Walliams' story about a boy who goes to school in a dress will be shown this Christmas
La Famille Bélier is being touted as this year's Amelie - so why are many in the deaf community outraged by it?

Deaf community outraged by La Famille Bélier

The new film tells the story of a deaf-mute farming family and is being touted as this year's Amelie
10 best high-end laptops

10 best high-end laptops

From lightweight and zippy devices to gaming beasts, we test the latest in top-spec portable computers
Michael Carberry: ‘After such a tough time, I’m not sure I will stay in the game’

Michael Carberry: ‘After such a tough time, I’m not sure I will stay in the game’

The batsman has grown disillusioned after England’s Ashes debacle and allegations linking him to the Pietersen affair
Susie Wolff: A driving force in battle for equality behind the wheel

Susie Wolff: A driving force in battle for equality behind the wheel

The Williams driver has had plenty of doubters, but hopes she will be judged by her ability in the cockpit
Adam Gemili interview: 'No abs Adam' plans to muscle in on Usain Bolt's turf

'No abs Adam' plans to muscle in on Usain Bolt's turf

After a year touched by tragedy, Adam Gemili wants to become the sixth Briton to run a sub-10sec 100m
Calls for a military mental health 'quality mark'

Homeless Veterans campaign

Expert calls for military mental health 'quality mark'
Racton Man: Analysis shows famous skeleton was a 6ft Bronze Age superman

Meet Racton Man

Analysis shows famous skeleton was a 6ft Bronze Age superman
Garden Bridge: St Paul’s adds to £175m project’s troubled waters

Garden Bridge

St Paul’s adds to £175m project’s troubled waters
Stuff your own Christmas mouse ornament: An evening class in taxidermy with a festive feel

Stuff your own Christmas mouse ornament

An evening class in taxidermy with a festive feel
Joint Enterprise: The legal doctrine which critics say has caused hundreds of miscarriages of justice

Joint Enterprise

The legal doctrine which critics say has caused hundreds of miscarriages of justice
Freud and Eros: Love, Lust and Longing at the Freud Museum: Objects of Desire

Freud and Eros

Love, Lust and Longing at the Freud Museum