“I’m gay,” Flaherty said. “I’ve known that since I was little. Growing up, I knew I wasn’t interested in boys. There was nothing there that interested me.
“I didn’t really know anything about it when I was growing up, but as I got older, I realized that I am gay, and from there it was about dealing with it.”
She then talked about her family and coming out while recognizing that she was lucky compared to other young people.
“I’m very lucky and blessed to have parents like mine. For me, there’s no difference. They accepted me with open arms and they see my current partner like their own daughter. I know I’m lucky in that sense.
“I think there is that fear of rejection, and I know people could find it difficult in telling their families because they are worried about letting them down or embarrassing them. The main thing is that I’m no different, and you’re no different, whether you are with a boy or a girl. I am still me, and my personality hasn’t changed.”
She added that she has received a lot of support in her career even though she recognizes there is still work to do to fight against homophobia in soccer:
“It’s sad that in this day and age there is still hatred towards homosexuality, and I do feel that it is hard for some people to accept it,” Flaherty said.
“I’ve been out before and heard different slurs. I’ve been on nights out with Lily and heard things. I think for me, and a lot of gay girls, the big one is when certain blokes turn around and say something like ‘what a waste’. For me, that’s more hurtful, because we love each other. How is it a waste?
“However, I think women’s soccer deserves credit because it’s such an accepting place. In every team I’ve been a part of, I’ve never felt any discrimination from fans or anyone at the club. Everyone has accepted me for who I am.
“Women’s soccer is a sport where a player can be openly gay and no one acts any differently towards you because of it, which is a great thing.”
Gilly Flaherty has proudly worn the colors of our community with rainbow laces and rainbow captain’s armband during the Rainbow Laces campaign, inviting football players to wear rainbow laces to show their support for diversity.
“The Rainbow Laces campaign is incredible. It’s been something that’s been going on for so many years and, each year, we see the work they do.
“For me, I think it’s nice when you see straight players embracing it as well as gay players.
It’s not like, as a gay player, you have an arrow stuck above your head. Everyone gets involved and supports the campaign by wearing the laces or, in my case, the rainbow captain’s armband.
“The Rainbow Laces game is a chance to show people that we embrace them for who they are, and an opportunity for us to support our teammates, friends, and family.
“My family will be there and it will be great for them to see the support. I think it’s a wonderful campaign that everybody can be a part of together.”
You can watch the video on the West Ham United site.
Photo: West Ham United