MLS assistant referee comes out as gay in hope to help others

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Major League Soccer referee Matthew Nelson hopes being open about his sexuality helps others as much as it is helping him.

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Nelson came out of the closet to his friends and family earlier this summer, and the assistant referee is now sharing his story in case it helps someone else going through a similar struggle.

Nelson wrote about his decision at

Since coming out, I have been able to focus more on performing to the best of my ability as an assistant referee. It has freed my mind from the fear of what others will think. Most importantly, it has allowed me to be myself. The ability to be myself, without feeling the need to put on a façade, is truly freeing. In the past month, I have begun openly dating an amazing man who I now proudly call my partner. Sharing with him my passion for refereeing soccer is truly fulfilling.

According to Nelson’s PRO page, he worked the 2016 MLS All Star Game and also a friendly between Manchester United and AS Roma. Entering this season, he had worked 67 MLS matches.