Skip to main content

Home News News World

‘I didn’t want the embarrassment’: John Fashanu gave gay brother Justin £75k to stay in the closet

By Shaun Kitchener

John Fashanu has admitted paying brother Justin £75,000 not to come out as gay in public.

The footballer made the declaration in 1990 and was subject to intense homophobia.


He took his own life in 1998.

“I begged him, I threatened him, I did everything I could possibly do to try and stop him coming out,” John told The Mirror.

His interview comes a week after the same paper claimed that two top footballers, including an England player, plan to come out in the next year.

“I gave him the money because I didn’t want the embarrassment for me or my family. Had he come out now, it would be a different ball game,” John explained.

“There wouldn’t be an issue, but there was then. Things are different now. Now he’d be hailed a hero.”


John compared the impact of Justin’s coming out to “Hiroshima or Nagasaki”.

He recalled: “I’ll never forget when Justin first told me. He called me in the evening time and said to me: ‘I’m gay’. Then he said to me: ‘I’m planning to go to a newspaper’. I said to him: ‘Oh heavens forbid… oh my God. We don’t need that. You’re mad’.

“He promised when I gave him the money he would not go out and say that. Two days later… bang… headlines in a newspaper. I looked like a sucker.”

He went on: “For me and my family it was like Hiroshima or Nagasaki on our lives. It knocked us dead, it was a total shock. People might not like it, but I was trying to protect my family.

“You’ve got to remember the public’s perception of homosexuality at that time was that it was an abomination . It was taboo. Street boys were beating up gays in nightclubs.”

John still doesn’t seem comfortable with his late brother’s orientation.

“I give him credit for having the courage to come out and say it. But it caused a lot of confusion and animosity towards him, me, and my family. During matches, 30, 40, sometimes 45,000 supporters sang at me: ‘You’re big… you’re black… your a*** is up for grabs… Fashanu… Fashanu’.”

He also claims that their mother’s death can be attributed to Justin coming out.

“As a result of him saying what he said, my mother died because of the stress. She actually died a year later on the day of his birthday,” John said. “She was already old, very fragile and suffering cancer.

“Then to be told her second eldest son was a homosexual was too much.”

The 53-year-old added: “I’ve never spoken about these things before because I was stamped a homophobe.

“But things have changed and I make it very clear: I was wrong. It was ignorance on my behalf.

“I didn’t understand him. I was trying to protect my family and I was worried about the effect on my career.”

Read the full interview on The Mirror.