photos & article by West Phillips
When with the U.S.see an openly gay active pro athlete
on our shores, on our teams?
Tthe North Carolina-born 30-year-old David Testo, midfielder for the
Montreal Impact and MVP in 2009 and who came out last month in the
Canadian press, might just be the one. He and the rest of his team are
in a bit of a limbo right now - the whole roster has been released as they
prepare to move from the North American Soccer League into the
expanding Major League Soccer.
Testo recently sat with AMBIENTE for a one-on-one.
What promted you to come out publically, and why do you think more
professional athletes that are gay, don’t?
For me I was out to all my friends, organization, and community, thus I
felt like I had enough support and had gotten to a place in my life where
I was comfortable enough to make the leap into the public eye. Also,
within Canada there have been a lot of recent suicides that I couldn't get
out of my head of young boys and girls, where I felt I could make a
difference in these peoples life's. With that being said, I knew there
would a big target on my back and it would become a lot harder to find a
team who supports this, however when you look at the big picture
decisions like this made by people that effect the younger and older
generations needs to be done and I felt that responsibility.
How has your life changed since all this publicity?
What would have done differently if you could?
My life personally has not changed much at all. Like I said, much of
my support group knew this already. From strangers and the public
however I have been blessed with so much support and love. I have been contacted by many athletes, straight, gay (closeted and out) that
have all taken to this story and can relate. This has made me the happiest, knowing that so many people are going through something
similar and that I could help. If I could have done anything different I would have come out earlier, but I think thus far everything has been
What was life like growing up in North Carolina. How has that changed living in Canada and being in the public eye & constant media
Well living in Montreal really made this easier than if I lived somewhere that it was not as accepted. I don't know if I could have done it in
many other cities. Knowing I live in a country and city with everything is accepted I felt like I had the support. Growing up in NC was tough.
I never was completely out. My family still struggles and has their own opinions, but like I said, I was comfortable enough in my own beliefs
that I knew this was the time to make a difference.
Have you had support from co-players, family, friends? How?
I had nothing but support from my teammates. The majority of them
knew already and were completely okay with it. I'm sure everyone was
really conscious when they were around me and made sure not to
make any "gay" remarks, which was probably hard considering how
prevalent the terms "fag" "gay" etc are in sport and competition. I didn't
tell my family or friends when I did this. So when reporters starting call
my mom the day after the release, I immediately got a phone call from
her say "What have you done?!" I understand her, she went from
dealing with having a gay son, to now dealing with having a gay son that
everyone knows about. However, I wouldn't have done it if I truly didn't
believe that she could not have handled it and have the support from all
of her friends. She's come a long ways and I'm super proud of her. My
friends have been very supportive. Like I said, I've built a strong support
group up here and wouldn't have been able to do this without their help.
What are you plans, professionally for the future, now that Montreal
Impact has been released as you prepare to move from the North
American Soccer League into the expanding Major League Soccer?
I don't know my future. I'm really just trying to stay in the moment and let
everything unfold naturally. I have a couple injures I'm trying to take care
of, and working hard to get 100 percent healthy. As for the Impact, the
door is slightly still open. I don't foresee myself packing up my bags
here and playing somewhere else. It would have to be a hell of a deal
and I would have be really comforatble with the city and organization. It's
a lot harder when your gay. The group of guys has a lot to do with your
mental peace and quality of life. So it makes a big impact on whether
you get along with everyone which in turns affects your play on the field.
I would like to be back in the MLS. I played there for a couple years
already in Columbus, Ohio. It's not my main goal, but just to help this
cause gain momentum and help out the younger generations.
Tell us about winning MVP in 2009.
It was a very nice award and great because we also won the
Championship that year. Also that year we had gone to the simi-finals in the CONCACAF tournament (losing to Santos Laguna), so there
was a lot of attention behind my name. I could have gone anywhere in the MLS after that year, but I choose to stay in Montreal because I
developed a good relationship with the owners and community. Plus I was in a serious relationship which also probably swayed my
decision not to leave. Maybe I regret not leaving now considering the predicament I'm in, but you can only do what you think is best for you
at the time...right? Also so much goes into a season. It's just not on Saturday nights at game time. Lot's of traveling and unseen energy
take place over the 10 months. I had to make a speech and in that moment I wanted to Thank my partner at for all of his time, help and
contribution; but I couldn't. That's when I realized I will still living a double life and it really hit me hard. I wasn't the same after that night.
Sweden's soccer player Anton Hysen came out last March. Others
like Esra Taulo & Billy Bean have also come out in other professional
sports. What do you see as the benefit of this to the fans/viewers?
I think the more men and women that come out publicly the better. I
know that each LGBT person has to go through their own personal
transformation, along with competing and surviving. So it's hard and
trust me I understand why a lot of people don't do it. At this point it only
adds extra stress in your life, however I believe it's going to take some
courageous people to step forward and lead the way. I am an example
that has received a lot of love and support, and the thought of it was
actually scarier then the actually coming out process. I hope that one
day this isn't news but a celebration of support and acceptance.
What do you want to say to a young soccer player in North Carolina
today, sruggling with coming out publically?
That hard because I want to say so much. I completely understand
where they are and know how difficult it is. I can only say from my
perspective it has been nothing but positive. I think once you go through
you own transition and become comfortable enough in who you are, you
will take the plunge. Everybody is different. I'm a very private person and
don't like this attention. However when you see the big picture and see
the influence you can have in other peoples life's that are struggling, it's
a no brainer. I would say continue to make a big support group around
you, enjoy life, and when and if you decide to "come out" I'll be there for
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