Referees join FvH Podcast for chat about Coming Out Day and mental health

New pod episode released to mark World Mental Health Day and Coming Out Day in October; Dan McFarlane and Mikey Connor, who are refs based near Aberdeen and Liverpool respectively, talk about being gay in the game and how they look after their mental wellbeing…

The second week of October features back-to-back awareness days - World Mental Health Day followed immediately by Coming Out Day.

To mark these occasions, the latest episode of the Football v Homophobia Podcast explores LGBTQ+ mental wellbeing and the ongoing challenges around coming out in the men's game, with the help of two referees.

Both Dan McFarlane and Mikey Connor are members of the LGBTQ+ Professionals in Football Collective, the network for LGBTQ+ people working in the game in pro or semi-pro roles. The group is co-ordinated by FvH and Sports Media LGBT+.

The Collective was started up in Pride Month 2022 and has seen its membership grow to over 40 people, all offering valuable visibility and representation in football, as well as mutual support and community.

Dan and Mikey chat with host Jon Holmes from Sports Media LGBT+ about the benefits of being true to yourself, the upsides of coming out and how to look out for others when they might be feeling down.

Dan is a Category 1 ref taking charge of games in the SPFL. He’s been out in Scottish football officiating for several years and says authenticity has been an essential part of his rise up the leagues.

Mikey will be familiar to viewers of BBC reality dating show ‘I Kissed A Boy’ - but he’s also a Liverpool FA referee at grassroots level.

The two men in the middle share their stories, offer advice to other gay and bi guys who might be finding it hard to break out of the closet, and assess the challenges that are still being faced in men’s football.

It’s a refreshing and open conversation that can help listeners to unlock their potential, on and off the pitch - and it might just encourage you to pursue officiating as well.

Dan on joining the Collective…

“I’d noticed the network on LinkedIn after the launch and I think the timing was pretty much spot on with the stories of Craig [Napier] and Lloyd [Wilson] coming out that month so it slotted in quite nicely.

“Being part of the Collective has been a very positive experience - it’s not just match officials, it’s everybody across football who all have this one end goal.

“But we all have very different paths to getting there and we’re all there to support each other no matter what the issue is.

“It’s been great to connect with a variety of people across the country.”

Mikey on what he gets from the group…

“I’m very comfortable in my own skin. I’m a gay man and this is who I am, I’m involved in football and I love football - but there’s always sides of the community that I wasn’t aware of.

“I learned a lot from going on the TV show and then when I came into the Collective, it’s not just gay men and women, we’ve got trans and non-binary people too.

“It’s just hearing other people's stories, relating to them and thinking, ‘wow, that was me growing up’ or whatever.

“Even just on from that, you learn the stories of people’s personal lives and you see how well they are doing. It’s a case of I didn’t know I needed that. When I see the stuff come through, it puts a smile on my face - it’s nice to see.”

There’s much more from Mikey and Dan on the podcast episode – listen in full to hear the guys share their coming out stories, talk about their experiences of being out and gay in refereeing, and the benefits they’ve had from being part of the Collective network group.

You can reach out to them directly through social media (find links on the Collective website) or email for all enquiries about the LGBTQ+ Professionals in Football Collective.