Out News Global is proud to be launching the #ComeOut2Play campaign to help Britain’s hidden gay and bisexual footballers to feel more confident about coming out.
The #ComeOut2Play Thunderclap campaign kicked off today with supporters signing up to say in one voice: “If a gay footballer comes out, I’ll support them. True football fans do not care who their heroes score with off the pitch, only that they score on it.”
Already, the Thunderclap campaign has gained support from Gay Times, Stonewall, Sport Allies and many more, with further big names and organisations to follow.
Alongside the editor of OutNews Global Andy West, the initiative is led by former MD of Leeds United Football Club David Haigh and Diva and OutNews publisher, Linda Riley.
David recently stated in an OutNews Global exclusive that he knows of at least 20 players who are privately gay or bi. Today, he said: “Whilst managing director of Leeds United, we made great strides in promoting equality and in supporting gay players and staff on & off the pitch.
“Having spoken to many gay and bi players over the years, the reason for staying silent often appears to be one of fear.
“We need to remove that sense of fear in the footballer’s hearts when they consider coming out. We need them to know there is nothing to be fearful about.”
Linda Riley added: “I offer my full backing to all those professional footballers who currently feel unable to come out and are torn between being true to themselves or silencing a small but vocal minority.
“I hope that this campaign helps to create an environment where gay or bisexual footballers can be out and proud so that the overwhelming majority of true football fans can demonstrate their full support from the stands and beyond.”
The Thunderclap drive comes hot off the boots of Stonewall’s Rainbow Laces campaign, which stated that 72% of football fans have heard homophobia at games and 63% of people said more should be done to make LGBT+ people feel more accepted in sport.
Andy West said: “We should never pressure anyone to come out if they don’t want to but, as a journalist, I’ve recently come to realise that there are professional footballers in the UK who do want to come out but they think they’ll lose their careers. That’s a problem but I believe the vast majority of football supporters, players, managers and owners will stand by any sporting hero who has the bravery and confidence to be open. It will happen and when it does, they’ll be an inspiration to millions.”