Can the LGBTQ in men’s football finally stop hiding?

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Jake Daniels has become the first active UK male player to come out as gay.

“I’m a footballer, and I am gay,” Australian player Josh Cavallo had said in an emotional post in October 2021. The 21-year-old’s landmark revelation, making him the only known openly gay professional footballer actively playing, seems to have paved the way for another.
Jake Daniels has become the first active UK male player to come out as gay. What is telling is the 30- year silence since footballer Justin Fashanu told a newspaper he was gay toward the end of his career in 1990. Eight years later, he would take his own life.
“For a long time I’ve thought I would have to hide my truth because I wanted to be, and now I am, a professional footballer,” the 17-year-old Daniels was quoted as saying by The Guardian. “I asked myself if I should wait until I’ve retired to come out. No other player in the professional game here is out. However, I knew that would lead to a long time of lying and not being able to be myself or lead the life that I want to. Since I’ve come out to my family, my club and my teammates, that period of overthinking everything and the stress it created has gone.
“I am hoping that by coming out I can be a role model, to help others come out if they want to. I am only 17 but I am clear that this is what I want to do and if, by me coming out, other people look at me and feel maybe they can do it as well, that would be brilliant. If they think: ‘This kid is brave enough do this, I will be able to do it too,’” Daniels said.

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“They think you are weak”

In the hyper-masculine world of football, most players are unable to come out as gay because of stigma attached to the sexuality.

Amal Fashanu, Justin Fashanu’s niece, who runs a charitable foundation in his name, said in an interview to BBC in October 2020: “It’s always been that powerful, secretive, dark world where there’s no place for anyone weaker and a lot of people see if you’re gay, you’d be weaker.”

“You can’t really blame one person – it’s the environment of football,” she said.

However, high-profile women players in England and across the world have gone public about their sexual orientation. Some say that the relatively low media scrutiny of the women’s game, less public pressure and less chances of abuse, created a safe space for women to come out as supposed to men.

However, the fact that lesbian women seem to be overrepresented in football could also be about perception. Women who did not conform to heterosexual idea of femininity found a community in the sport to which other convention-breaking women were also drawn. The male-dominated contact sport that requires power, strength and skill, provokes visions of masculinity, and therefore homosexuality.

On the other hand, for men, being gay, especially at the lower ranks of football, labels them as “weak”. That is why there have been so few admissions by active professional players about their sexual orientation.

Is football changing?

Football has made great strides in engaging with social issues in recent times but LGBTQ representation in the men’s game is still low.

Football, with the money it attracts and influence it wields, especially over the youth, can be a force for social change. Daniels, born in 2005, is of a generation that is more aware and wants to catalyse transformation in society. However, he still fears about what could happen in the World Cup in 2023.

In Qatar, the host country, being gay is illegal and can be punished with jail or even death penalty as per the Sharia law they practice, even though there are no recorded cases of this happening in the media. However, LGBTQIA+ support groups are calling for FIFA to review a country’s human rights record before selecting them as a world cup venue.

https://www.timesnownews.com/sports/footballer-jake-daniels-comes-out-as-gay-why-professional-players-keep-their-sexuality-under-wraps-and-how-it-may-be-changing-article-91620465

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