Matt Hatzke, Former San Jose Earthquakes Soccer Player, Comes Out As Gay

Former San Jose Earthquakes soccer player Matt Hatzke has come out as a gay man.

Hatzke says, he already knew he was gay when he played as a midfielder for the team during the 2008 season, but he didn't feel comfortable telling any of his teammates.

"I truly believed that I could never come out as gay while playing professional soccer. It was that year in MLS that I had reached my breaking point. My release from soccer put me on the path to coming out to myself, my family and my friends," Hatzke wrote in an essay for

Hatzke late Wednesday attended the LGBTQ Film Festival at San Francisco's Castro Theater and watched "Out to Win," a film about profoessional athletes coming out.

"These are probably some of the athletes I looked up to and took inspiration from myself," Hatzke said in an interview with NBC Bay Area.

Hatzke said he decided to come out now in honor of National Pride Month and because of the upcoming Supreme Court announcement on same-sex marriage.

He said he wants young athletes to look up to him as a role model.

Hatzke was acquired by the Earthquakes in 2008 after first being drafted by the Los Angeles Galaxy in the fourth round of the 2008 MLS SuperDraft and being traded. Prior to his professional career, he was a 2006 and 2007 All-West Coast Conference selection for Santa Clara University, playing 81 games in his four years in school.

Hatzke is now a dentist who operates a San Jose practice with his parents called Silicon Valley Dental Care.

NBC Bay Area's Terry McSweeney contributed to this report.

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