England Women's captain Casey Stoney is hoping to make it easier for more people to come out after speaking at length for the first time about being gay.

A campaigner for equality between men and women's football, the Arsenal ladies defender is the latest sportsperson to speak openly about their sexuality after former Aston Villa midfielder Thomas Hitzlsperger came out as gay and Olympic diver Tom Daley revealed he was in a relationship with a man.

Stoney, who has 116 caps for England, was delighted by the positive response Daley got to his announcement, and is hoping that revelations about sexuality will eventually not be seen as important.

casey stoney

Stoney has come out after the encouragement Hitzlsperger and Daley received


"I feel it's really important for me to speak out as a gay player because there are so many young people struggling with being gay," she told BBC Sport.

"You hear about people taking their own lives because they're homosexual, now that should never happen. They should never feel those pressures.

"How can I expect other people to come out and speak about themselves if I'm not willing to do that myself?

"Now is the time because I'm in a loving relationship where I feel strong, I feel safe and I don't care what other people think any more."

Stoney's sexuality was not a secret within the game and she is now hoping that the wider world will become more accepting of gay athletes.

"I've never hidden it within football circles because it is accepted," she said. "But to the outside world where I've been employed or I've gone to meals and I've gone and met people, I've never spoken about my sexuality."

She added: "If I can help other people in some way shape or form feel more comfortable or feel at ease with themselves then this is what this is all about, this is the bigger picture.

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  • The FA England Awards 2013

    BURTON-UPON-TRENT, ENGLAND - FEBRUARY 03: In this handout image provided by The FA, Casey Stoney poses with the Club England Team of the Year award on behalf of the England Women's team during the FA England Awards 2013 at St. George's Park on February 3, 2013 in Burton-upon-Trent, England. (Photo by The FA/The FA via Getty Images)

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    Casey Stoney, England

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    Casey Stoney, England Women

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    Casey Stoney, England Women

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    Casey Stoney, England

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    Great Britain's Casey Stoney during the Great Britain v Cameroon, Group E, Women's Football match at the Millennium Stadium, Cardiff during the first day of the London 2012 Olympics.

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    Wales' Helen Lander, left controls the ball in the air as England's Casey Stoney, right watches on

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    Great Britain's Casey Stoney

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    Casey Stoney, Lincoln City Ladies.

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    Casey Stoney, Lincoln City Ladies.

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    United Kingdom's Casey Stoney during the Quarter Final match against Canada and at the City of Coventry Stadium, during day seven of the London Olympics.

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    Casey Stoney, England

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    Casey Stoney, England

  • London Olympic Games - Day 7

    Great Britain's Casey Stoney looks dejected after the final whistle of the Quarter Final match against Canada and at the City of Coventry Stadium, during day seven of the London Olympics.

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    Great Britain's Casey Stoney looks dejected after the final whistle of the Quarter Final match against Canada and at the City of Coventry Stadium, during day seven of the London Olympics.

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    Casey Stoney, England

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    Great Britain's Casey Stoney during a training session at Cardiff University Sports Fields, Cardiff.

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    PORTSMOUTH, ENGLAND - SEPTEMBER 26: Casey Stoney of England looks on prior to the FIFA Women's World Cup 2015 Group 6 Qualifier match between England and Turkey at Fratton Park on September 26, 2013 in Portsmouth, England. (Photo by Ben Hoskins/Getty Images)

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    LINKOPING, SWEDEN - JULY 18: (L-R) Sophie Bradley and Casey Stoney of England look dejected after the UEFA Women's EURO 2013 Group C match between France and England at Linkoping Arena on July 18, 2013 in Linkoping, Sweden. The match between France and England ended 3-0. (Photo by Christof Koepsel/Getty Images)

  • The FA England Awards 2013

    BURTON-UPON-TRENT, ENGLAND - FEBRUARY 03: In this handout image provided by The FA, Casey Stoney poses with the Club England Team of the Year award on behalf of the England Women's team during the FA England Awards 2013 at St. George's Park on February 3, 2013 in Burton-upon-Trent, England. (Photo by The FA/The FA via Getty Images)

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    LONDON, ENGLAND - JULY 31: Jill Scott #4 of Great Britain celebrates victory with team-mate Casey Stoney #6 of Great Britain after the Women's Football first round Group E Match between Great Britain and Brazil on Day 4 of the London 2012 Olympic Games at Wembley Stadium on July 31, 2012 in London, England. (Photo by Mike Hewitt/Getty Images)

  • Britain's defender Casey Stoney (R) cele

    Britain's defender Casey Stoney (R) celebrates after winning the women's football match against Brazil at Wembley Stadium in London, on July 31, 2012 during the London 2012 Olympic Games. Britain won 1-0. AFP PHOTO / KHALED DESOUKI (Photo credit should read KHALED DESOUKI/AFP/GettyImages)

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    LONDON, ENGLAND - JULY 31: Jill Scott #4 of Great Britain celebrates victory with team-mate Casey Stoney #6 of Great Britain after the Women's Football first round Group E Match between Great Britain and Brazil on Day 4 of the London 2012 Olympic Games at Wembley Stadium on July 31, 2012 in London, England. (Photo by Mike Hewitt/Getty Images)

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    LONDON, ENGLAND - JULY 31: Casey Stoney #6 of Great Britain battles for the ball with Marta #10 of Brazil during the Women's Football first round Group E Match between Great Britain and Brazil on Day 4 of the London 2012 Olympic Games at Wembley Stadium on July 31, 2012 in London, England. (Photo by Julian Finney/Getty Images)

  • Great Britain's goalkeeper Karen Bardsle

    Great Britain's goalkeeper Karen Bardsley (L) and defender Casey Stoney celebrate after winning their women's football match against Brazil at Wembley Stadium in London, on July 31, 2012 during the London 2012 Olympic Games. AFP PHOTO / KHALED DESOUKI (Photo credit should read KHALED DESOUKI/AFP/GettyImages)

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    LONDON, ENGLAND - JULY 31: Jill Scott #4 of Great Britain celebrates victory with team-mate Casey Stoney #6 of Great Britain after the Women's Football first round Group E Match between Great Britain and Brazil on Day 4 of the London 2012 Olympic Games at Wembley Stadium on July 31, 2012 in London, England. (Photo by Mike Hewitt/Getty Images)

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    CARDIFF, WALES - JULY 28: Casey Stoney of Great Britain in action during the Women's Football first round Group E Match between Great Britain and Cameroon on Day 1 of the London 2012 Olympic Games at Millennium Stadium on July 28, 2012 in Cardiff, Wales. (Photo by Julian Finney/Getty Images)

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    CARDIFF, WALES - JULY 21: Casey Stoney of Team GB Women's Olympic Football Team poses during an official portrait session at the Marriot Hotel on July 21, 2012 in Cardiff, Wales (Photo by Joern Pollex/Getty Images)


"I looked at the response that Tom Daley got and the incredible positive response that he got and I thought 'wow, the world is changing' and it's time for me to stand up and tell my side of the story."

The 31-year-old has also expressed sympathy with gay athletes in Sochi for the Winter Olympics where controversy has been caused over Russian anti-gay legislation.

Russia will also host the World Cup in 2018 and Stoney admits she will not be going to the tournament if current attitudes towards sexuality there persist.

"I won't be going to Russia or Qatar to watch a World Cup because I wouldn't be accepted there," she said.