Words: Jamie Tabberer; picture: Pixabay (posed by model)
A gay Premier League footballer has spoken of his fear of coming out publicly, saying he believes he'll be "crucified" by fans.
The unnamed player also told friends he has turned to therapy to deal with his concerns, reports The Sun.
The late Justin Fashanu, who came out publicly as gay in 1990, is the only top-level footballer to take the step. The star took his own life on 2 May 1998.
"I want to be open with people"
According to The Sun's sources, the footballer told friends: "It’s 2021 and I should be able to be free to tell everyone who I am. But there are some fans on the terraces for whom it is still very much the 1980s.
“I want to be open with people because it’s who I am and I am proud. But the truth is I will be crucified.”
The sportsman continued: “When I play, I feel like the fans may guess and they are judging me.
“Am I coming across as camp? Can they tell from the clothes I wear off the pitch? It has had a terrible effect on me mentally. It’s terrifying.”
Fashanu's niece Amal, who campaigns for LGBTQ equality in sport, told the publication: “In 2021, when we have never been so woke as a society, it feels like it should be the perfect time for a top-level player to come out.
“But the reality is that homophobia, especially online, is more prevalent than ever. We need to protect these players.
“I am in constant dialogue with the FA about what can be done but, unfortunately, it’s an unprecedented situation so it’s hard to put in place measures for a situation that hasn’t yet occurred.”
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