A Premier League player comes out as gay in an open letter but says he’s too scared to reveal himself and the secret is harming his mental health.
Reports emerged yesterday, revealing the torment he is going through on a daily basis of keeping his sexuality secret from his team-mates.
In an open letter — which has been aimed at the authorities and football supporters — he says he is taking a “huge step” of opening up over his ordeal.
But he says football is not ready for an openly gay player and he is scared to reveal his identity.
He is being supported by the Justin Fashanu Foundation, run by the tragic footballer’s niece Amal.
The charity, fighting homophobia and racism in football, handed us the letter to raise awareness of the issues facing gay players.
In it, he wrote: “As a kid, all I ever wanted to be was a footballer.
“I wasn’t interested in doing well at school.
“Instead of doing homework, every spare minute I had was spent with a ball.
“In the end it paid off.
“But even now I still have to pinch myself when I run out and get to play each week in front of tens of thousands of people.
“However there is something that sets me apart from most of the other players in the Premier League.
“I am gay.
“Even writing that down in this letter is a big step for me.
“But only my family members and a select group of friends are aware of my sexuality. I don’t feel ready to share it with my team or my manager.
“That’s hard. I spend most of my life with these guys and when we step out on the pitch we are a team.
“But still, something inside me makes it impossible for me to be open with them about how I feel.
“I dearly hope one day soon I will be able to.
“I’ve known since I was about 19 that I was gay. How does it feel having to live like this?
“Day-to-day, it can be an absolute nightmare.
“And it is affecting my mental health more and more.
“I feel trapped and my fear is that disclosing the truth about what I am will only make things worse.
“So, although my heart often tells me I need to do it my head always says the same thing: “Why risk it all?”
“I am lucky enough to earn a very good wage. I have a nice car, a wardrobe full of designer clothes and can afford to buy anything I want for my family and friends.
“But one thing I am missing is companionship.
“I am at an age where I would love to be in a relationship.
“But because of the job I do the level of trust in having a long-term partner has to be extremely high.
“So, at the moment, I avoid relationships at all.
“I dearly hope I will soon meet someone who I think I will be able to trust enough.
“The truth is I just don’t think football is ready yet for a player to come out.
“The game would need to make radical changes in order for me to feel able to make that step. The Professional Footballers Association say they are ready to help a player to come out.
“And they have said they will offer counselling and support to anyone who needs it.
“This is missing the point. If I need a counsellor I can go and book a session with one whenever I want. What those running the game need to do is educate fans, players, managers, agents, club owners — basically everyone involved in the game.
“If I was to make that step I’d want to know that I would be supported at each step of my journey. Right now, I don’t feel I would be.
“I wish I didn’t have to live my life in such a way.
“But the reality is there is still a huge amount of prejudice in football.
“There are countless times I’ve heard homophobic chants and comments from supporters directed at no one in particular.
“Strangely it doesn’t really bother me during the matches. I am too focused on playing.
“It’s when I get back on the plane or the coach and I have time to think that it gets to me.
“As things stand my plan is to carry on playing for as long as I feel able to and then come out when I have retired.
“It was great last month to see Thomas Beattie raise his hand and admit to being gay. But the fact he had to wait until retirement tells you all you need to know.
“Footballers are still too scared to make the step while they are playing.
“For the past year I have been getting support from the Justin Fashanu Foundation, not least to cope with the toll this is all having on my mental health.
“It is hard to put into words how much the Foundation has helped. It has made me feel supported and understood as well as giving me the confidence to be more open and honest with myself especially.
“Without that support I really don’t know where I’d be now.
“I know it might get to the point where I find it impossible to keep living a lie.
“If I do my plan is to retire early and come out. I might be throwing away years of a lucrative career. But you can’t put a price on your peace of mind.
“And I don’t want to live like this forever.”
A few weeks ago, one former Hull City youth team player announced he is gay, becoming the fourth male professional footballer who has played in the UK to come out.
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The others to have done so are the late Justin Fashanu, former Aston Villa player Thomas Hitzlsperger and ex-Leeds player Robbie Rogers.
The latest to come out gay man was attacking midfielder Thomas Beattie, as mentioned in the letter, who admitted he did not feel comfortable coming out during his professional career. Read what he had to say by clicking HERE.
After seeing that one Premier League player comes out as gay in an open letter sent to the Justin Fashanu Foundation, social media took to give their thoughts…
Met and spoke to different people in the last year about their own experiences. Having to live your life, pretending to be someone you’re not. I hope this player has a good support network. https://t.co/oC4ZzJpH1h
— Alex Stone (@AlexStone7) July 11, 2020
That’s actually really sad, and this issue should be taken more seriously
— Luke?? (@OscarUtd_) July 10, 2020
we don’t care buddy be who you wanna be, sod the haters
— Rover (@jorindel) July 10, 2020
It’s not political – but it is something that needs to be addressed. Not a single gay footballer in Britain, the only one we’ve ever had literally took his own life. Homophobia is still rampant in lad and team culture, never mind chants and banter.
He shouldn’t feel oppressed.
— james (@VrancicFC) July 10, 2020
I feel sorry for whoever this. I feel sorry that we live in a time, still, where people will not accept him and will bully him with homophobic chants and fill his Twitter with homophobic rhetoric. I dream that this won’t be that case soon. Football is football, all that matters.
— Morgan (@TippettMorgan) July 10, 2020
Love is love. No any problem, mate.
— Roberto Maydana (@efectoinfinito) July 10, 2020
In 20 years time our kids and grandkids are going to be gobsmacked that footballers had to feel like this in 2020. It’s like something out of the dark ages.
— Hayley (@HamHayley) July 10, 2020
I do not envy the poor soul who has to be the first openly gay PL player. The world is full of hatred and bigots that will harass and probably issue death threats and demonstrate during matches. But someone has to pave the way. It would be very brave!
— Tommy Hamsund (@Tommyth) July 11, 2020
So what if his gay ? People should respect him no matter what. People who have a problem with gay people are actually so sad
— DevilUnited (@DevilUnited2) July 10, 2020