Demi Stokes: England defender hails inclusive women's game

Demi Stokes smiles at training
Demi Stokes won the Continental League Cup with Manchester City this past season

Manchester City and England defender Demi Stokes has praised the women's game for its inclusivity, which allows her to speak openly about her sexuality.

Stokes is gay but says she never felt the need to upload a coming out post on social media.

The 30-year-old attributes that to the women's game's "welcoming" nature.

"I think it's about being comfortable with yourself, and the men's game is very different," Stokes said.

There is only one openly gay male player in England, Blackpool forward Jake Daniels.

The 17-year-old, who came out in May, was inspired by Australia international Josh Cavallo coming out in November, and Stokes believes more male players will follow suit.

"There's a lot of taboo there [in the men's game]," Stokes, who has 67 England caps, added.

"I think you can see there are players [in the men's game] that are starting to come out and the more players that do that does encourage the next person.

"So I think it's obviously a slow process but within our game [the women's game] we welcome everyone and I think that's good.

"I think as well sharing my story and being quite open and honest about a lot of things, I think can help a lot of people, so I think it's about using my voice.

"And some topics are uncomfortable, and I don't know everything, but I think it's about me being in a position and using my platform to help the next person."

Stokes, who won the Arnold Clark Cup with England earlier this year, could not name a specific reason as to why women's football is a space where players can be more open but did say the culture has a large part to do with it.

"I don't think I have the answer to that but I think our fans are great, and team-mates and stuff," she said.

"It's just about 'be yourself', being authentic with it, and if you open up on it nobody can pull you up on that.

"Equally as well, the support that you have around you does make it easier. But it's about being yourself, and people will love you for who you are and who you want to be."

Stokes is a part of Sarina Wiegman's England squad for the Euros this summer, which starts with a Lionesses match against Austria at Old Trafford on 6 July.

The defender, who has won the Women's Super League, the Continental League Cup and the FA Cup, is balancing her commitments to football with motherhood after she and fiancee Katie welcomed son Harlen in May.

She added being a mum will be added motivation to take the trophy home.

"I think obviously it will change things in terms of balancing life. We travel a lot as well so, in terms of that aspect, that will be difficult leaving, and stuff like that," she said.

"But I think on a positive note I can use that [parenthood] as extra motivation and he can give me an extra 'up' as well, so I think it's all just a blessing and it's all positive."