Football has been in a very iffy place when it comes to LGBTQ+ representation. There are currently no premier league gay players. This has been so since the episode of Justin Fashanu.
Justin Fashanu is the world’s first professional footballer to come out as gay. He agreed to have an exclusive with The Sun tabloid newspaper on the 22nd of October, 1990. Fashanu claimed that he had an affair with a Conservative MP who was married.
A week after, his younger brother John Fashanu publicly put distance between the two, describing Justin as an “outcast”. Later, Justin’s manager Brian Clough famously described him as a “bloody poof”
Fashanu was later in an interview with the Gay Times, 1991. He revealed that no club had offered him a full-time contract since the news first appeared. On the morning of 3rd May 1998, Fashanu was found hanged in a garage. In his suicide note, he stated: “I realised that I had already been presumed guilty. I do not want to give any more embarrassment to my friends and family.”
A male English professional football player is going to come out as gay and everyone is watching as the second goes by.
Currently, there are no professional male football players in England. If the coming out is to be true, it will be a fresh deal. It comes in time with the World Cup success of the American Women’s team that has multiple out players. Megan Rapinoe, Ashlyn Harris, Ali Krieger, Adrianna Franch, Tierna Davidson and coach Jill Ellis.
We still don’t know if the person behind the account is real, but there has been no comment.
So, who is our mystery?
An account on Twitter was born on July 5th. This account apparently belongs to a footballer who intends to come out. The first tweet was announcing that he was an EFL or English Football League player. It also states that he has come out to his family, that he was under 23 years of age and that he was “a proud gay man, hoping to break the mould.”
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
On the following day, July 6th, The Gay Footballer gave an announcement that he had come out to his club’s manager and chairman. What made viewers happy was the statement that followed. He reveals that they were extremely supportive upon receiving the news. They share their commitment to ensuring that he has the right support from within the club and outside it. Further reassurance was placed that his playing and position within the team will not be affected.
— The Gay Footballer (@FootballerGay) July 6, 2019
His latest tweet gave way to much more headlines. On July 15th, The Gay Footballer states that he intends to come out “as soon as possible” and “I am looking to going public prior to the start of the new season”.
He hopes to empower other closet LGBTQ+ pro-soccer players so they “can take comfort and hope from such disclosure and can feel suitably empowered to, if desirable, reach the same decision.”
Our mysterious footballer also adds that he hopes to make a change for every gay person at every level of the game, even those who feel like their sexuality prevents them from doing so. His coming out, he says and hopes, will be a “catalyst for change”
An update following my meeting with the club on Sunday. Thank you to all of you that have shown your support so far ❤ pic.twitter.com/yRZrgXG5e6
— The Gay Footballer (@FootballerGay) July 15, 2019
The new football season is to start at the beginning of August. So if our Gay Footballer is real, he’s going to have to come out within the next couple of weeks. If he is, in fact, real, this is going to a momentous coming out.
Why is it such a big deal?
We believe it’s a big deal because we don’t currently have a lot of LGBTQ+ representation. More so, this isn’t the first time that the world has received such tantalizing news.
In 2015, two-star players were thought to come out. Back then, Manchester United player Luke Shaw gave denial that he was one of them. The buzz around that possible coming out has now re-born through the current buzz around The Gay Footballer.
“The stars are thought to be planning to go public before the start of next season,” Britain’s Mirror reported. “We can also reveal that another well-known player came out to friends in 2011. But a homophobic word was then daubed in paint across his car. It is understood he is now reluctant to come out publicly in case he is the target for more abuse.”
The Gay Footballer, if real, would be making soccer history as the third football player in England to come out. This is following in the path of Robbie Rogers who became the second soccer player in England to come out. Rogers played for L.A. Galaxy until his retirement in 2017.
And so we wait for the mystery to unfold.
The mystery continues and ofcourse, the question of “who” plays a much more important role.
But we still find ourselves questioning, why did it take so long for this supposed Gay Footballer to come out, or even think of coming out?
Does this express the actual truth of football? The lack of players in 2019 football perhaps shows the lack of order that exists in the house. And perhaps the existence of homophobia that has been key in preventing players from coming out?
The fact that it has taken so long for a footballer to come out tells us everything about the prejudice that still exists in the game.