Sunday, April 15, 2007

Will The First Gay Premiership Footballer Please Raise Your...


Ex West Ham and England goalkeeper David James, now at Portsmouth, has written a fascinating ARTICLE in The Observer today, which may cause a few reverberations around the dressing rooms of many Premiership football clubs. He asks why not a single professional footballer has come out of the closet and admitted to being gay. He writes...

If one in 10 people are gay, where are all the gay Premiership stars? It's a question that's often asked, but there are only whispers, dodgy rumours and malicious media gossip for answers. Football, it seems, is one of the last professional environments where you can't be out and proud. In every other entertainment industry we have gay stars. Why should football be different? Are football fans really so incapable of watching a gay player without abusing him? The same bunch of fans who are routinely homophobic always sing along to the camp-as-you-like Scissors Sisters anthems played at grounds up and down the country or the Pet Shop Boys song 'Go West'?


A senior executive in football said to me he wished all the gay footballers would come out so we could just get on with it. I find that view refreshing. In marketing terms they could make a fortune. Just imagine, football's first gay couple playing for rival teams, arguing about offside decisions over the dinner table. They would do Hello! magazine, chatshows, advertisements. Would it upset players being naked in the changing room together? What about the after-hours highly homoerotic activities - indulging in football threesomes and roastings? Would football culture ever be the same again? I can't imagine it would be possible for a 17-year-old to come out, no matter how good he was. The protective bubble of success wouldn't be there. You'd have to prove yourself first before you could be openly gay and still be accepted.

Sport seems to be virtually the only field of today's society where being open about your sexuality is a complete no no. If, say, Christiano Ronaldo (pic above in a touching moment with Ole Gunnar Solskjaer) came out of the closet tomorrow, would it mean he would be ostracised in the Man U dressing room or lose the support of the crowd? I doubt it very much.
From next season any form of homophobic chanting in football grounds is to be banned. I have to say I am in two minds about this because it is not always easy to determined what is homophobic and what is genuinely funny mickey taking. Still, the same could be said of racist chanting and no one would ever defend that, no matter how it was actually intended.
David James ends his article with a plea for fellow footballers to come out of the closet. At first I wondered if he was trying to tell us something. Read this and make up your own mind...
Down the years I could easily have been accused of being gay. I was a bit different - I modelled for Giorgio Armani, sparking rumours over which designers wanted to get into my pants; I practised yoga; I read, I paint. I've been to The Boardwalk - a gay club in Manchester - although I was with my wife at the time, and I've even driven past the local gay dogging spot in Devon - there were a couple of guys in tight black shorts and vests looking like Village People try-outs. I have a number of gay friends and although they wouldn't want me shouting from the rooftops about their sexuality, I'd like to encourage them to come out. I accept that it's easy for me to say that, but how many more years will it be before we can talk openly about gay men playing professional football? ... It'll still take some sort of new age hero to be the first to come out, but I just hope, for football's sake, that it happens soon.
I suspect the only way this will ever happen is for a group of ten or twenty to do it at the same time. But don't hold your breath...

67 comments:

Little Black Sambo said...

IF one in ten people are gay . . . But they aren't.

Anonymous said...

Some years ago a gay footballer came out. He subsequently ommitted suicide. His name was Justin Fashanu. Despite his undoubted ability as a footballer he was persecuted and hounded out of the game. Fanshanu's sad story should provide David James' with a few clues as to answer to the question.

Anonymous said...

Sounds a bit like the Tory party really.

Colin D said...

The PC brigade march ever onward & upward, Gog help the engrish!! I am able to recall the days when a certain Mr Clive Best played well for the "hammers". from the terraces he was often widely referred to as "Chocolate", good old chocolate when he did well & the reverse when he mucked up. In those days all ref's came from doubtful parentages, and the linesmen were little better. If a guy is "gay" so what? he as a person is all that should be considered. One final bleep on this: are they OVER represented in society or just more vocal??

The Hitch said...

Im with sambo , this 1 in 10 figure is just propaganda (and wishfull thinking)
Maybe the reason that players arent coming out as gay is that there arent any gay players in the same way that premiership players arent coming out as asians.

Ratty. said...

I suspect the only way this will ever happen is for a group of ten or twenty to do it at the same time.
Ian
In Sparta, a crack regiment of lovers fought side by side, eager to win greater glory in each other’s eyes and knowing that their partner would watch their back, so to speak.
If somebody like Mr E. John hadn't wasted a lot of money on Watford FC. but had invested it in a 'homosexual squad', training them in the same way as those Spartan lads, who knows where they would be in the league.

Reactionary Snob said...

Yes, it is rather odd. Although, I am in the law, I am chums with a few sports journalists.

There are a number of players, in both the Premier League and the SPL, who are well-known to be gay but for various reasons will not (cannot?) come out.

That's rather a shame - I think it would probably be good for them, good for the game (as James points out homophobic chanting will be banned as of next season - it's ratehr telling that it isn't banned now, surely?)and it would send out a message to wider society.

As you say, I can't see it happening any time soon.

The sad thing is - people are still writing articles about it, people still comment on articles about it, people still gossip about. In an ideal world, and sadly this isn't, we simply wouldn't care if x footballer happened to prefer a man in his bed to a page 3 model.

RS

Anonymous said...

The point about Justin Fashanu is a very good one. It is a sport of male masculinity, that probably doesn't tolerate anything that threatens that.

Also, I don't like to generalise, but not many gays are attracted to playing football.

I think the one in ten is about right, but of that one in ten, a lot will be attracted to the arts and drama, not many to football.

I know, having been in acting.
I've been in acting classes where I am the only straight male.

So the question should also be why won't the gays in Hollywood come out of the closet? More and more British actors have done so, but it is time America came out.

Iain Dale said...

I don't think the Justin Fashanu incident is very relevant. It was 15 years ago. Society has moved on since then and become far more accepting. Fashanu came out for the wrong reasons - he thought it would confer some sort of celebrity status on him. He was a deeply flawed individual and just couldn't handle it. I

Praguetory said...

Slightly tangential but Birmingham City fans singing "where's your caravan?" at pony-tailed Juan Pablo Angel seemed racist to me, but passed without incident. None of my team (Hardly Athletic) are gay to my knowledge, but as we have women in our team, the after-game showers provides a frisson.

Andrew Woodman said...

I thought one of David James teammates was out.

ian said...

Reverberations indeed. Imagine a footballer writing. And for a Broadsheet

Anonymous said...

Iain, if racist chanting is out why do you let some little troll call himself "little black sambo" post here? And don't pretend you don't know what "point" he's trying to make with his name. He gets to post because he writes right wing comments that you agree with, so you let the casual racism pass.

The Hitch said...

Lets get real here,
we have a group of men who wear pairs of diamond earings and alice bands , enjoy manicures and and changing their hairstyles every week , who love nothing more than having a bath with a load of muscley young men after work and you really think that some of them might be gay??????
pull the other one.

The Hitch said...

The origins of the word "Sambo" stem from an occurrence believed to be at the height of the British Empire. An unknown slave ship had docked in the then-popular Morecambe Bay area to buy various sundry items; once back at sea it was noticed that a black member of the ship's staff had been left ashore. The gentleman's name was Sambo and, shunned by the people of Morecambe he was made to live out the remainder of his days on the outskirts of the villages at that time. To this day there is a monument known as 'Sambo's grave' on the coast of the Lancashire village of Heysham.

judith said...

I know I'm showing my age here, but why is one's sexuality anyone else's business?

If I employ someone, I want to know if they can do the job required, not who s/he sleeps with. Same with sportsmen/women.

Anonymous said...

Sounds a bit like New Labour really.

martin tupper said...

According to a well known survey I am 20% gay. I am also 31.7% multicultural. Beat that suckers!

forthurst said...

First of all this article begs a couple of questions, namely that 10% of the male population is homosexual and that homosexuals distribute themselves equally amongst all professions. The first was based on Kinsey which has been comprehensively discredited but is kept alive by proselytisers and bone idle journalists (the overwhelming majority), the second on a non sequitur; feminisation of a male brain in the womb sometimes affects purely sex drive and sometimes aptitude and outlook, that is why football is not the same as all other entertainments, such that sports stars who are homosexual tend to be female not male, whereas in the corps de ballet, the position is reversed (no hidden meaning).

As it is only very recently that homosexual males have not been legislated against, is it not more appropriate to let sleeping dogs lie?

The greatest member of my own profession in this country was thanked for shortening the war and saving thousands of British lives by being driven to suicide for his homosexuality, Alan Turing. An example of how cutting off your nose to spite your face is not a good prescription for effective lawmaking.

Daily Referendum said...

Ratty,

It's impossible to have a totally guy squad. It would take all season to decide on the design of the strip.

I think today a player could 'come out' but I think we're still at the stage where it would be better if a few came out at the same time.

Anonymous said...

While one in ten guys may be gay, that does not mean that you can extrapolate into the world of football. Something like 90% of the gay men I know HATE football. On that basis, the one in ten is more like one in 100 or even more !

martin tupper said...

It has been calculated that gay footballers can hit balls .03% harder than any straight one; so get a life you heterosexual saddo's!

Anonymous said...

Hmm,perhaps it might also be pertinent to ask why the Spanish,Italian and German national teams (amongst numerous others)have so few black players.

Brucie said...

It's a very interesting thought. But it is ridiculous to compare football with other parts of the entertainment industry.

Iain, you attend West Ham games - just imagine the reaction from the chicken run (is it still called that ?) when this "outed" footballer comes within earshot ? Any gay footballer will have to be extremely brave to out himself.

I always remember the Le Saux/Fowler incident. Didn't most pro-footballers think he was gay because he read the Guardian and could actually put a sentence together ?

javelin said...

Talking of "isms" and "Caring Conservatives" - there's a social group who die a full 5 years on average before.

These longevity differences are as great as any poverty difference in the UK - yet the Government (and the Conservatives) do absolutely nothing about reducing this toll and have no plans to deal with it.

The only known way for these people to join this group with higher longevity is is to undergo surgical castration.

Who are this group?



Men.

Ed said...

Iain, you are assuming that everyone at the match is as intelligent and open-minded as yourself. You are also assuming that the players involved are desperate to be "outed" but feel they can't because of various pressures.

Why is it any of our business who does what (or who) off the field? It's only celeb-culture that means that we think we should know everything about anyone who has been vaguely on telly.

Little Black Sambo said...

Anonymous 4.49. You write very much like "Mike".

Toque said...

I have a few gay friends and none of them are coordinated enough to play football; they all run like girls and throw like girls.

That may be a stereotype but it's true.

In my opinion Justin Fashanu was an exception rather than an advance guard of footballing gays.

Bono said...

Can I remind people that next week is, "Be kind to gays and clapped out old slappers week". A special puce coloured wrist band has been produced to con you into thinking that you can make a difference just by wearing it. Please support any local events dreamt up by your local busybodies.

wrinkled weasel said...

Gay martyrs and Football..two great yawns of the 21st Century. Still, I suppose it gives you something to watch when the game palls (about 95% of the time).

verity said...

Anonoymous 3:04 pm - The one-in-ten figure would sound about right to you if you were in the acting profession!

But as The Hitch said, it isn't correct and I personally think it damages gays to brandish false figures around.

Anthropologists tell us that homosexuality is around a steady 4 per cent across the board in all societies and all races. I think that is a far better figure to quote, because the steadiness and ubiquity of the percentage indicates that it is a universal condition - nothing to do with culture, nothing to do with early influences - and is therefore a normal strand that runs through all of humanity. Thus, it is not exceptional and shouldn't be regarded as such.

The Clown of Pevensey Bay said...

I'm a Brighton supporter and, for the reasons you can probably imagine, we get the same old, very unoriginal "Does your boyfriend know you're here?" chant at most away games. (We got it at West Ham in the cup, of course)

A few of the more humourous members of our support have taken to singing back: "You're too ugly to be gay". It confuses them no end.

antifrank said...

Curiously enough I'm dating a man who used to be a professional footballer (at lower league level). He would not have come out because the hassle wouldn't have been worth it for him. Maybe not heroic, but very understandable.

Little Black Sambo said...

Anon 4.49: "He writes right wing comments".
The comment that aroused your ire was that one in ten people are not gay? What is "right wing" about that?

kris said...

Iain

Didn't you wonder about Sol Campbell's "issues" last year?

Not that I know anything- or that there's anything wrong with that!

And Freddy Lungberg. Hello! I don't think Uncle Roy would be modelling Calvin Kleins.

I would be quite content for the entire Arsenal squad to be gay. I could care less.

verity said...

And that's another thing: why are people who are content to have their private life private behind closed doors being forced "out" by militant gays with their own axes to grind? Sadly, I include Peter Tatchell, who I otherwise admire as a genuinely courageous man, in this. Whatever happened to freedom to choose?

dearieme said...

They're all gay. Otherwise they'd play rugby.

Iain Dale said...

dearieme, that really is very funny. Rugby is a perfect game for latent homosexuals. Where else could you get to grab male genitals and not be arrested for it? Thank you, and goodnight!

The Hitch said...

Iain said .....
Where else could you get to grab male genitals and not be arrested for it? Thank you, and goodnight!

The Hitch says ......
The Metropolitan police !
Thank you and good night.

Anonymous said...

Come to think of it. One in ten gay. Where are the 65 gay MPs?

Quite right about the comment that it is really nobody's business if they don't want it to be. It shouldn't affect the job.

Chris Smith is a superb MP and greatly respected. Compare to Ben Bradshaw, the man who toured TV studios to help "flush out" David Kelly.

You couldn't get two more different standards of MPs. One honourable, one not. So being gay is probably irrelevant. It's about how good they are at the job.

Cato, author of www.toryheaven.com said...

Anonymous: "not many gays are attracted to playing football."

LOL, are you taking the mick?

Anonymous said...

iain/dearie me - good point, but in the world of rugby they actually do have an entirely gay rugby team, and their results are pretty good too.

iain - you also sound a bit frustrated there - why not have a go at the game yourself - nothing like a bit of rolling around in the mud to get one cheered up..

Newmania said...

I think everyone is missing the point here The fact that there are so few Footballers who are gay shows that Gay ness is encouraged by the cultural milieu around you . This might have implications for such policies as obliging schools to have books recommending that children …sorry I mean showing gay couples as an arrangement on a par with the more traditional one . The figure one in ten comes originally from the Kinsey report which has horrible methodological problems and , in fact was conducted in American prisons . It is a fiction . Gays have a vested interest in their being gay gene and a horror that it is a culturally specific phenomenon.. Looks like they might be out of luck .

Guessedworker said...

David James' ghost-writer can't be expected to commend inequality, I suppose, given James' colour. However, he is wrong in assuming that a healthy relationship of homosexuals to society can be built on equality. It can only be built on respect: specifically the granting of tolerance towards homosexuals in return for the latter's discretion.

In general, it is a grave mistake for us to think from positions that the radical left have forced upon the rest of us. Free-thinkers don't agree with the "rights" platform, and don't think in terms of laid down thirty years ago in critical theory.

The past is maligned most by those who have applied coercion in the present. More honesty in the way we view our exciting new, terrible correct "enlightenment" and "tolerance" would befit those who do not wish to be prisoners of modernity.

Paul Linford said...

There's a three-word answer to this question: communal changing rooms. They are the reason why most straight footballers would feel uncomfortable having out gay men in the team.

Stereotyping? Maybe. But anyone who has ever been to an all-boys school would know what I'm talking about.

machiavelli said...

Can you post more photos like that? It's better than this politics lark

Anonymous said...

Of course there are gay footballers.
It is also wrong to say all gay people don't like football and if they do it is only to see men run around in shorts which is also wrong.
I am 31 openly gay, a Watford fan my best mate is also gay in his late 40's and been supporting since he was a kid. I love the game with a passion but also happen to sleep with men, I just don't get it when they say about gay people should not like football.
I also am Chairman/Maanger of a Sunday League club. All the players know I am gay, I see them naked and don't have a problem with it. Yes we have a laugh about it, and that is how it should be
Also get on well with my clubs WAGS!!!
I agree with Iain it will take a group of players to have the guts to come out togther.

Chris Paul said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Londoner said...

Outside the entertainment industry, and now politics because it has become acceptable to most of the public and might be relevant in terms of having a balance of different types of people, I am not sure there are many areas of work where people "come out" in terms of a public announcement, are there? Many City fund managers' and corporate financiers' names are quite well known, as are senior barristers and judges, FTSE CEOs and FDs, Whitehall Permanent Secretaries, etc but how many are known to be gay? Even if specialist journalists happened to know in a few cases, would they print it or think it relevant? Almost certainly not.

So it would only be relevant to footballers because they are "celebrities". If footballers show a reluctance to play the celebrity game and just prefer to play good football, shouldn't we commend it? And isn't it natural that they would want to avoid tabloid intrusion into who their latest boyfriend is, whether they are promiscuous gays (still stigmatised rather more than a promiscuous heterosexual lifestyle I would suggest) or partnered?

Also, do not discount the fact that footballers are young and their mums, and often grandmums, still very much about.

So whilst it may be an interesting question for gay football fans, like Iain, to speculate on it is not something to be worried about. No harm in straight footballers saying that it is not an issue though, so when the first one after Fashanu does come out, or is outed, it is not much of an issue (and the grandmother accordingly less embarrassed).

Chris Paul said...

Er, Iain

Have you really cut my comment from THIS strand? Just because it mentioned in passing your and Dorries gypsy bashing? I can understand a certain amount of deleting of truly OFF TOPIC comments but that wasn't off topic and that was CENSORSHIP. Presumably all other (two or three was it?) comments linking to my Dorries rejoinder have also been removed?

All were relevant to your posts about strange bigotry. It's your blog and you're entitled to cut anything you want. But CENSORSHIP STINKS.

I do appreciate your emailing me from your Blackberry though ...

My comment is not lost for ever as it is worked into a blogpost HERE. And that does not mention Dorries' and Dale's patent bigotry.

Best w

Chris P

Anonymous said...

Rugby is a perfect game for latent homosexuals. Where else could you get to grab male genitals and not be arrested for it?

And dress up in tight white t-shirts, tight shorts and push your head between the bottoms of burly men...

But (seriously) there are several openly gay rugby teams and - I believe - a gay league.

Rugby is a more 'masculine' (if by masculine you mean physically dangerous / violent) sport than football, so I don't think it's really a masculinity issue.

Could there be anything in the fact that rugby is a somewhat middle-class and - in this country - largely white sport? The media makes it seem like both those groups are more likely than others to be accpeting of gay culture.

Iain Dale said...

Chris, As you know you posted four times on different threads linking back to your Nadine Dorries blog thread. I emailed you after the second one to warn you that I would delete any further attempts at astro turfing. You did it twice again so I deleted them. You were given due warning. No censorship was involved.

If you wish to carry on this discussion you can email me, but I am not going to be diverted on here into a long to and fro about it.

Anonymous said...

Some men think they must prove their masculinity, through highly competitive sports, or in reaching a position of dominance in the military or business or politics.

They may be repressed homosexuals in denial. Take a look at Bush and Blair, two of the campest men on the planet out to prove what big boys they are. Two men in denial about their own records. Look at that Bush power walk, with that camp swagger and listen to a speech by vanity Blair from 15 years ago and you would think he was as camp as Carry-on movie.

It is afterall, stupid masculine pride that is at the root of every war. If only all macho men could give up on that unshakable image and find the gay man hidden inside them, the man who does not need to prove he is a man, the world would be a far more peaceful place.

Anonymous said...

Alexander the Great was gay wasn't he? I'm sure they appreciated his peacemaking skills back then.

Anonymous said...

where did he say he was gay?

This is appalling of you Iain.

Iain Dale said...

who?

Chris Paul said...

Iain: I know you're not a techie but I got your cryptic email AFTER I posted more comments. You know that from the timings. So why pretend? I sent you a request for clarification IMMEDIATELY. That's when I got your email.

The comment I posted on this strand was completely legitimate - actually I think the other ones were too although they had a tongue in cheek reference drawing attention to them.

J'Accuse you of censorship. Because you don't like being found out aiding and abetting a beastly racist rant from Nadine when most of your posts are (the ones I commented on) about other strange bigotries.

Political censorship masquerading as policing. And you say the Lib Dems are illiberal.

I was not warned and anyway this was politically motivated censorship and I'm disappointed.

You posted your comment saying I was warned in the full knowledge that I hadn't been. Even if you had not known when you started your cull.

Email - even from a Blackberry - is A-synchronous. Particularly when to a non-PDA.

Chris Paul said...

PS Iain: Why don't you repost my comment and see whether anyone else thinks it was off topic.

So libertarian.

Iain Dale said...

Chris, I am not going to debate this with you. If you don't like it, go and visit one of the other 70 million blogs out there.

Ross F said...

It is probably wrong to assume that the proportion of gay footballers is equal to the proportion of gay men in general, however the chances of there only having been one gay footballer in 20 years or so is pretty remote. I suspect the reasons are the fan abuse they would receive, particularly if they were crap and potentially adverse responses from team mates.

Oddly enough almost all the footballers whom I've heard being rumoured to be gay, play in London. This includes several who have transferred down from northern clubs. This suggests to me that even being semi open about being gay would risk a backlash outside of the metropolis.

Graeme said...

The best quote of the year:

I don't like to generalise, but not many gays are attracted to playing football

I love this quote! I don't like to generalise either, but daft people do write the most amazing lot of bollocks about homosexuality, don't they? I believe the current estimate of 1 in 100 daft:undaft people is a woeful under-estimate; but since I conduct my research by reading political blogs I might have a biased sample.

mark williams said...

http://www.rabbireport.com/archives/in_honor_of_gay.htm

Jonjon said...

Should there be a Salary Cap in Football?
Personally I think there should be! It’s just getting to be stupid money in football at the top of the premiership!
It’s always the same teams at the top proving that football success is based purely on money which ruins the idea of it being a sport! They’ve done it in rugby, basketball, hockey and American football and it makes the sports more competitive and better to watch!
I do a little Spread Betting or more precisely Football Spread Betting from time to time and most matches don’t hold much surprise who is going to win, its boring! I want to see a team at the bottom pulling off an amazing season beating last seasons winners in a close fought battle!
Make things fair! It shouldn’t be about money!

Anonymous said...

I'm a gay son of an ex professional english footballer. Does that count?.. Probably not. There surely has to be gay premiership players. Its quite sad that they are not out, but who can blame them. Despite it being much easier for gay guys to be out these days, but in the football world, given those involved, and those who watch, are more likely to be homophobic that the average citizen, would mean that coming out would definately lead to abuse, and would definately harm thier (short) careers. Why would they risk that? Also, in my expereince, straight guys are far more likeley to be the ones who are checking out each others tackle in the changing rooms than the more self-consious gay guys.

Anonymous said...

By talking like this, David James has proved that he is totally 100% straight. He accepts that a certain percentage of guys (and therfore footballers) are gay, he is comfortable with that reality, is it comfortable with his own sexuality. It has been proven that homophobic men are not comfortable with their own sexuality. Read this http://www.philosophy-religion.org/handouts/homophobia.htm

Anonymous said...

Although there are many reasons as discussed a professional footballer would not 'come out' whilst playing football at the height of their career This doesnt explain why ex-footballers dont come out as gay. Many Footballers retire in their 30's or even earlier with injuries. Many moving into sometimes lucrative careers well away from football but I don't recall any of those coming out?

John said...

Probably it will be easier as the gay stereotype [largely created by the gay community itself] crumbles as one hard man after another comes out - Ian Roberts - Wentworth Miller - Gareth Thomas. For the moment, if you were a gay Premiership League player, who is the only man you would feel safe sleeping with? Answer - another gay Premiership League player. :-)