An anonymous footballer, who plays in the English Premier League, has revealed that he is gay, but says that he’s too afraid to come out.
In a letter - published in full by The Mirror after being released by the Justin Fashanu Foundation, a charity founded in the name of the late Nottingham Forest striker who came out while still playing - the player wrote: “I am gay. Even writing that down in this letter is a big step for me.
“But only my family members and a select group of friends are aware of my sexuality. I don’t feel ready to share it with my team or my manager.”
Explaining that he has known he is gay since he was 19, he went on: “Day-to-day, it can be an absolute nightmare. And it is affecting my mental health more and more. I feel trapped and my fear is that disclosing the truth about what I am will only make things worse.
“So, although my heart often tells me I need to do it, my head always says the same thing: “Why risk it all?” I am lucky enough to earn a very good wage. I have a nice car, a wardrobe full of designer clothes and can afford to buy anything I want for my family and friends.
“But one thing I am missing is companionship. I am at an age where I would love to be in a relationship. But because of the job I do, the level of trust in having a long-term partner has to be extremely high.
“So, at the moment, I avoid relationships at all. I dearly hope I will soon meet someone who I think I will be able to trust enough. “The truth is I just don’t think football is ready yet for a player to come out. The game would need to make radical changes in order for me to feel able to make that step."
Further explaining the difficulty in coming out while still playing, he continued: “I wish I didn’t have to live my life in such a way. But the reality is there is still a huge amount of prejudice in football. There are countless times I’ve heard homophobic chants and comments from supporters directed at no one in particular.
“Strangely it doesn’t really bother me during the matches. I am too focused on playing. It’s when I get back on the plane or the coach and I have time to think that it gets to me. As things stand my plan is to carry on playing for as long as I feel able to and then come out when I have retired.”
He finished by writing: “For the past year I have been getting support from the Justin Fashanu Foundation, not least to cope with the toll this is all having on my mental health.
“It is hard to put into words how much the Foundation has helped. It has made me feel supported and understood as well as giving me the confidence to be more open and honest with myself especially.
“Without that support I really don’t know where I’d be now. I know it might get to the point where I find it impossible to keep living a lie. If I do my plan is to retire early and come out. I might be throwing away years of a lucrative career.
“But you can’t put a price on your peace of mind. And I don’t want to live like this forever.”
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