Two people coming out as gay shouldn’t really be news, we live in the 21st century and the large majority of society are open and accepting of other people’s sexuality.
It’s because it’s two professional football players that this has made the front page of The Mirror today. In 1990, striker Justin Fashanu became Britain’s first openly gay footballer. He was subjected to nasty jibes from fellow players and rotten abuse from fans. He committed suicide, aged 37, after being accused of sexual assault.
No player since Fashanu has come out whilst still playing. But that was 1990, we’ve moved on since then.
Ex-Aston Villa midfielder Thomas Hitzlsperger had already retired before his 2014 announcement that he is gay.
If the reports are true, then that is all about to change. The Mirror is saying that two Premier League players are about to come out, one of which is believed to be an England international. They aren’t naming the individuals, but a source said:
“The stigma has completely gone, and the public are far more accepting. At this level of football, being gay is almost the final frontier.
“It has always been such a macho game and, unfortunately, perhaps more than in any other sport, there can be an aggressive mob mentality in the stands. But finally the tide is turning and more and more sports people are openly gay.”
The two individuals in question have already consulted family, friends and their clubs, who are all said to be very supportive. They will be the first openly gay footballers still playing during the Premier League era.
The reaction from fans and fellow players will be key. If we are all supportive, understanding, and basically don’t make an issue out of it then more players will follow suit and it will become a non-story.
Let’s hope that this happens. It’s about time the sport moved forwards and stories like are not front page news.