A Twitter account allegedly belonging to a gay English soccer player has revealed he will come out in the ‘near future.’
‘The Gay Footballer’ account, which was created last week (5 July), has quickly tallied more than 22,000 followers following a first tweet announcing his intention to come out.
If and when the player does, he will become the first player to be openly queer since Justinus Fashanu more than 29 years ago.
What do we know so far?
Through a steady stream of tweets, the player has slipped some details of his identity.
He is ‘under the age of 23,’ and is a second-tier player currently playing ‘for a club in the Sky Bet Championship.’ He also clarified he ‘doesn’t have an iPhone.’
— The Gay Footballer (@FootballerGay) July 6, 2019
Moreover, in a statement posted on 6 July, he revealed he has requested a meeting with both his manager and the club chairman.
He wrote: ‘At this meeting I revealed to both gentlemen that I am a homosexual man, I explained that I had only yesterday come out to my family.
‘I sought advice from both men regarding the fact that I not only want to, but will, come out publicly as a proud, confident gay professional footballer.
‘As it currently stands, once I have taken the time to give full consideration to how and when I am to make it public, a press conference will be organised by the club, with invitations to be made in due course to both local and national press.’
‘Please be patient with me’
Having only recently come out to his family, according to further tweets, while pressure from sport pundits and press mounts, he has kindly asked for time.
He said: ‘I want/need the opportunity to prepare myself, and those around me, before going public. Please be patient with me.’
However, some followers remain sceptical. For example, Twitter has not verified the account, drawing suspicion from some.
This is the reason for not revealing my identity until I am ready.
— The Gay Footballer (@FootballerGay) July 7, 2019
Although, when pressed by some, the user has said: ‘I still have members of my family, friends, and those at my club who I need to inform first, and make sure they’re not finding out third hand.’
Furthermore, homophobes have targeted the player. Bubbling in the mentions of many of the account’s tweets.
The user said that such reactions ‘are why this situation has to be handled carefully, for myself and my club.’
Who was the first English male soccer player to come out as gay?
Some people remember Justin Fashanu as the tall, young, center-forward who once won the BBC’s goal of the season award.
To others, he is a symbol of the complicated and, at times, toxic relationship between the LGBTI community and sport.
When the soccer star announced via a tabloid to come out as gay in 1990, the reaction was mixed. Some welcomed him, but others lampooned him.
However, after sexual assault allegations, Fashanu took his own life.
Conversely several high profile England women’s players have come out as lesbian
Such as Lily Parr, Casey Stoney, Kelly Smith and Fara Williams. Overall, attitudes around the women’s game are more tolerant than the men’s.