Ryan Atkin
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Referee holding a football

Ryan Atkin

Ryan Atkin is a professional football referee and senior manager within the railway industry. He has operated on the EFL Championship and Leagues 1 and 2. In August 2017, he decided to come out, making him the only out gay man in professional football on the pitch. Ryan has used his role to open dialogue within the world of football and to drive change. He can often be seen in the media campaigning for LGBT equality in sport.

Ryan’s hopes for LGBT equality in sport

Living a life in the shadows, or living a lie, is no life at all. If I can be out and proud, and that helps others be comfortable with who they are, then I have done my job. I know how hard it is to hide your sexuality, and about the lack of authenticity that had an impact on my own performance. It is my hope that sport is inclusive for all and that your sexuality or how you choose to identify will no longer be a barrier in the future. We should never underestimate the power a visible rainbow flag can have on the next generation to follow in our footsteps into the beautiful game that is football.

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