British culture has been widely accepting of the LGBT community as it becomes a norm within society and rightly so. The support for people has been unwavering and huge stars globally have told of their stories as they show their true identities.
However, this is something that seems to need a bit more time within British sport as currently in professional men’s football there is no openly gay player and that has been the case since the 90’s when Justin Fashanu came out as gay in 1990. The support system when Fashanu came out just wasn’t in place has he was singled out most games by fans and opponents leading him to tragically kill himself in 1998. There hasn’t been an openly gay professional footballer in English football since.
Things could be about to change though as a mystery self-labelled professional footballer has been using the power of Twitter to tell his story of being a gay professional footballer and he intends to reveal his identity before the start of the 2019/20 season. His Twitter is called The Gay Football (@FootballerGay).
— The Gay Footballer (@FootballerGay) July 21, 2019
His Bio reads “I’m a professional footballer, currently playing in the Championship. I will reveal my identity soon, but I am a PROUD gay man.”
In a statement posted (July 15), the player says he intends to come out publicly “as soon as possible.”
“Whilst no exact date has been finalised, I am looking at going public prior to the start of the new season,” the statement says.
The Championship season starts on August 2.
The Gay Footballer’s statement said that he had met with his club to discuss coming out, and he’d been “delighted by how receptive they are to the issue.”
“The club have instinctively viewed the issue in human terms, their support has focused on that first and foremost. Any pre-existing concerns I had in this regard have been alleviated as a result of the support that has been evident.”
While it’s easy to doubt the authenticity of the account, it’s worth noting that it’s currently being followed by a handful of professionals within the industry. including Burton Albion forward Marvin Sordell and former England striker Gary Lineker.
I'm a professional footballer, playing for a club in the @SkyBetChamp. I will be revealing my identity soon, but I am a proud gay man, hoping to break the mould. I am under the age of 23, and today I came out to my family. Soon, I will come out publicly. #loveislove #Pride #LGBT pic.twitter.com/CFzvOQ5Q1L
— The Gay Footballer (@FootballerGay) July 5, 2019
Is Football Ready?
In the short answer, it will have to be. It is the hope that once the player has revealed their identity and takes the pressure of being the first then others will follow suit and be welcomed. Clubs in today’s age spend huge amounts of money on player care teams that deal with the mental wellbeing of their players and also their personal lives as well.
Burnley boss Sean Dyche has said that opening the door for gay footballers is so important. He told Alastair Campbell and his comic daughter Grace’s podcast Football, Feminism And Everything In Between: “I would just go, ‘Are you a really good footballer? Well, let’s crack on then’.”
Time will tell whether the person behind the account is genuine and if so how the wider areas of football including the fans will react. It should be a given that gay footballers will be accepted with open arms but for a small minority, it could be a new thing to abuse footballers with as we see with the racial attacks on some footballers today.