The on-line Mirror informs me that two Premier League players are “set to come out as gay” before the end of the season. As someone who really could not care less about anyone’s sexuality, I could not care less who’s gay and who isn’t. Fair play to the players concerned but I can’t help thinking that this story, if it’s real, will cause months of merriment to the newspapers, trying to work out just who it is that is “coming out”.
I’m afraid this is the way the media works. Work out who is married, work out who isn’t, narrow it all down and then start following people around. It happens all the time. I suppose they will have to follow people around since they can no longer getting away with hacking into telephones. Meanwhile, our old friend, A Source, tells the Mirror:
“The stigma has completely gone, and the public are far more accepting. It has always been such a macho game and, unfortunately, perhaps more than in any other sport, there can be an aggressive mob mentality in the stands. But finally the tide is turning and more and more sports people are openly gay.”
Oh yeah? Do you really think so? It has taken forty-odd years to get where we are with stopping racism and we’re nowhere near the finish line on that one yet. Not just pernicious verbal racism, but institutional racism that means that hardly any coaches and managers are of colour, other than the colour white.
Of course, some players are gay. I played football with a few gay men during my glittering career across the parks of Bristol, although none of them actually revealed their sexuality at the time and some still haven’t. Since then, I am sure attitudes have changed, but not by that much. We are talking evolution not revolution, I’m afraid.
I am not sure the Mirror has done anyone any favours by running this story, or non story as it currently remains and it could be that there is nothing in it. My hope is that when people come out we all shrug our shoulders and say, “Thanks for that, well done. Now can we concentrate on the game, please?”
The only thing I want to see in a footballer is that he can play.