Justin Fashanu
Guy Lochhead, 21/02/12
English footballer who played as a forward for clubs all over the world, in England, Scotland, Canada, America, Australia, New Zealand and Sweden. He came out in 1990 and remains the only openly gay English male professional footballer there has ever been. His announcement was sensationalised by The Sun and resulted in a vicious hate campaign, public disownment from his brother, and difficulty in getting a contract with any high-achieving football club. Before coming out, he had been bullied by manager Brian Clough and forced to train on his own while at Nottingham Forest. In 1998, while in America, he was accused of sexually assaulting a 17 year-old boy. Fashanu contested that the sex was consensual, and the police later dropped the case, but the tabloid media again sensationalised and fabricated events. Fashanu hanged himself later that year, leaving a note reading “I realised that I had already been presumed guilty. I do not want to give any more embarrassment to my friends and family.”. His experience is often cited as an example of the massively homophobic environment of professional football, and has fuelled numerous campaigns and benefits. Fashanu was a remarkable footballer and a remarkable person. Footballers are some of the most public figures in our culture, and they should behave accordingly. If more were like Fashanu, the world would be a better place. He was by no means perfect – he was dropped from Heart Of Midlothian for trying to sell false stories about him and a number of cabinet ministers to the papers, and he did invite some tabloid coverage – but his treatment by colleagues, fans and the press was appalling. Lessons have yet to be learnt. I will include a forthcoming biography and some sort of cheap football memorabilia.

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