In May 2022, Jake Daniels, a player for Blackpool FC, made history by becoming the first active male professional footballer in Britain to publicly come out since Justin Fashanu in 1990.

At the age of 17, Daniels shared his sexuality in a candid interview with Sky Sports. Recently, Daniels opened up about the challenges faced by gay footballers who are yet to come out in an interview with former professional footballer Thomas Hitzlsperger, who came out after retiring in 2014.

During his conversation with Thomas Hitzlsperger for LadBible TV, Daniels expressed his belief that there are other gay footballers in the sport who have yet to come out. However, he emphasised that each player should have the freedom to come out on their own terms and when they feel ready.


“I definitely think there’s others in football that are gay.”

Daniels attributed the hesitancy among many gay footballers to the fear of public reaction and the use of social media as a tool for targeting players. He highlighted that being gay or experiencing racism becomes an easy target for online abuse, making it challenging for footballers with a significant fanbase to navigate their sexuality openly.

Daniels also touched upon the influence of traditional notions of masculinity within football, which contribute to the lack of players coming out as gay. He acknowledged that the perception of being gay is often associated with weakness, contrasting the strength and toughness associated with the sport.

“Someone can say you’re a rubbish player, but if you have come out as gay, that’s their first instinct to target you on,” Daniels says.

“They’ll be shouting ‘You’re gay’ on the pitch; that’ll be their first thing. I think for footballers, having such a massive fanbase, I feel like that is the main scare of it. It’s social media,” he added.

Jake Daniels revealed that his decision to come out was greatly influenced by British diver and Olympic gold medallist Tom Daley.

In Daley’s alternative Christmas message in 2021, he spoke about the impact an openly gay Premier League player could have in breaking down barriers. Daniels says Daley’s words resonated deeply with him and provided him with the inspiration to embrace his sexuality publicly.

Following his coming out, Daniels received an outpouring of support and even found his “soulmate” partner, Mark, who reached out to congratulate him on his courageous step.

While progress has been made in men’s football regarding LGBTQ+ inclusion, there is still much work to be done. The English Premier League, for instance, is yet to have an openly gay male player. Recognising the prevalence of homophobia in the sport, an initiative was launched in January 2023 to address the series of “damaging” homophobic incidents occurring in stadiums across the country.