The British PR guru, Max Clifford, is advising gay soccer players to remain in the closet. His advice follows the coming-out of the most capped Welsh rugby player, Gareth Thomas.
But Clifford says he could not imagine a Premiership footballer doing the same. He says he’s counselled gay soccer players that their careers would be ruined if they came out.
Yet, in Thomas’s case, his player colleagues were OK about the revelation. Who’s to say soccer players wouldn’t be?
But, then, you’re dealing with a more yobbish element among soccer supporters than among rugby supporters, which is probably part of what lies behind Clifford’s thinking.
While I can appreciate that a player wants to keep his career, he would be doing a far more noble thing to come out and encourage others to do the same. If we take Clifford’s advice, no player will ever come out, and being gay will continue to be seen as something intrinsically wrong.
I’m put in mind of Justin Fashanu, the (so far) only prominent soccer player to come out. He ended up committing suicide after being accused in the States of sexual assault against a 17-year-old youth. In his suicide note, Fashanu said the sex was consensual.
As we said a few days ago over Gareth Thomas’s coming-out, it’s a dreadful state of affairs when people have to choose between their careers and being honest with the world around them; being free to be who they are; being able to have a relationship openly without having to hide it. And some, no doubt, simply deny themselves sexual gratification, probably even suppress their sexuality, leading, potentially, to all kinds of psychological problems.
However, while (not exclusively, but chiefly) religionists continue to obsess about the “wrongness” of being gay, what can we expect?