David Testo, 30, played with the Montreal Impact until last month, and won the team's MVP award in 2009.
The North Carolina native told CBC Radio-Canada this week that he is gay, and regrets not coming out earlier.
"It's hard, like living the life of a professional athlete and being gay is incredibly hard," said Testo.
"It's like carrying around a secret, you know, and carrying around luggage and just never being allowed to be yourself."
Testo's sexual orientation wasn't a secret to his family, friends, or even his teammates.
But he said he had battled with his decision to make his sexual orientation public for a long time, and said he was extremely sad that he didn't feel able to thank his partner as he accepted his most valuable player award two years ago.
Testo played for the Montreal Impact between 2007 and 2011.
He joins a small group of professional athletes to come out, including former NBA centre John Amaechi, swimmer Mark Tewksbury, and tennis star Martina Navratilova. Most came out following retirement, and no male athlete from a major league has come out while still playing.
ontd_fb's very own buyamattress made a more complete translation of the original French source:
Shattering a persistent taboo in the world of sports, the former [Montreal] Impact player David Testo publicly revealed his homosexuality Thursday, in the hopes of encouraging other athletes to come out of the closet and stop living in fear.
"It's more important than soccer. There are other young men who have problems, who need someone to do what I'm doing," explained Testo, 30, in an interview with Radio Canada. "It's important to be yourself."
"I'm homosexual, I'm gay. I don't have a choice. It's simply part of who I am. And it has nothing to do with the talent of a soccer player. You can be be an excellent soccer player and be gay at the same time," he affirmed.
The American midfielder spent five seasons with the Impact before being let go last October. The entire time, his trainers and his teammates knew his sexual orientation. But Testo never spoke of it publicly.
"I truly regret not having spoken publicly earlier. I struggled with it throughout my life, throughout my career. To live the life of a professional athlete and to be gay is unbelievably difficult," he said. "It's like carrying a secret in your suitcase, without ever being yourself. It saps all your energy, and plus you still have to perform, have to play."
David Testo has chosen to come out now because he is out of contract. Could his declaration hurt him in the search for a new team? Hard to say. According to what La Presse has learned, the Impact knew Testo's sexual orientation from the moment he signed for them in 2007. The player's homosexuality was in fact an open secret in the league.
"In the team, everyone knew that David was homosexual," his former teammate and friend Antonio Ribeiro confided on Thursday. "But he was one of the most respected player at the Impact, by the training staff as well as the players. David is a great professional. His homosexuality is a minor detail."
"He spoke about it with certain people in private, like me. I never had a problem with it: it's 2011!" he said.
According to Ribeiro, his friend chose to come out to challenge the taboo of homosexuality in professional sports. Even today, few professional athletes at the highest level are openly gay. Only two active professional soccer players have ever come out, most recently the young Swedish player Anton Hysen.
"I am sure that they are in all sports, in football, in basketball, in rugby," said Ribeiro. "But to say it publicly like that, that takes a lot of courage. I admire him."
Source // Hilariously translated source // Video interview with Testo
Testo also used to play for MLS side the Columbus Crew.
Wasn't sure what to tag as... But good for him. It's a shame he was let go before the Impact joined the MLS next season, and that's very sad about not being able to thank his partner. ):