Last December, Manchester City and England national footballer Demi Stokes came out publicly without even using the words “coming out”.
In an Instagram post announcing that she was expecting her first child, Stokes uploaded a photo of silver balloons spelling out the word “BABY” along with an ultrasound. Then in the caption, she tagged her partner Katie Harrington.
For a top athlete used to living her life in the public eye, this was a remarkably subtle coming out story, the kind that, at first glance, would have some of her fans asking, “Wait a minute. , is she from…?”
In doing so, Stokes illustrated some of the differences in pressure LGBTQ athletes face in men’s and women’s football.
“It’s about being comfortable with yourself” Stokes told the Guardian. “And the men’s game is very different, there are a lot of taboos there. You can see there are players starting to come out and the more players that do that it encourages the next person. This is obviously a slow process, but within the framework of our [women’s] match, we welcome everyone and that’s good.
In other words, the widespread acceptance of LGBTQ athletes in women’s soccer has allowed Stokes to come out publicly in such a low-key fashion.
It’s a luxury not afforded to players like Josh Cavallo or Jake Daniels who, due to their status as barrier-breakers in men’s football, have been subjected to greater media and public scrutiny ever since. their exit.
Stokes, on the other hand, admitted that coming out was “honestly not something I thought about too much. It was pretty much, ‘I’m Demi and I’m genuine.’ I didn’t make the post to say, ‘I’m gay, I’m here, I’ve arrived.’ It was more fair that I was talking openly about my partner and that’s it. That’s how it should be. If you’re dating a boy, a girl, whatever. It shouldn’t change anything.”
The couple’s son, Harlen, was born two months ago and like any proud mother, Stokes has posted several adorable baby photos on her Instagram. At the sound of things, he is already a big hit with his teammates.
“The girls have been great,” she said. “I think he’s going to be very spoiled with a lot of aunts around. He is a very lucky boy to have all the people he has around him.
These people include a soccer mom who was able to come out with equal confidence and comfort.