Football v Homophobia response to Jake Daniels coming out

Image of Jake Damiels - credit Blackpool FC

As Jake Daniels sets out on his professional career at Blackpool FC, the Football v Homophobia campaign recognises the courageous step he has taken by fully embracing his authenticity.

Campaign Director Lou Englefield commends Jake for speaking publicly:

“Football v Homophobia would like to congratulate Jake on taking this step to share his authentic self in the men’s professional game, especially at such a young age. There have previously been players who felt that they had no place in the game as out gay men during their playing careers, but Jake is showing the world that you can be yourself.

We hope that football will join us in celebrating Jake’s news and take proactive steps to ensure that he receives the support he deserves, from players, fans, clubs, and the football authorities. We look forward to following his career in the game”

Jake’s news comes after a season in which he has scored 30 goals for the club’s Under-19 team and made his first-team debut. He is well placed to benefit from the liberating feeling that coming out brings.

“I’m ready to be myself, be free, and be confident with it all,” Jake told Sky Sports News.

His maturity is impressive, and it is also a credit to his family and friends, his team-mates and all connected with Blackpool that he feels comfortable enough on and off the field to share his truth.

Working with young LGBTQ+ people like Jake and providing education that helps to make football environments more inclusive has been fundamental to the Football v Homophobia (FvH) campaign since it started over a decade ago.

By giving schools, grassroots clubs, and academies the tools to identify homophobic language and behaviour, and understand how the enforcing of gender stereotypes impacts negatively on sport, our work contributes towards creating spaces that welcome everyone.

The message of Jake’s story is hugely positive and empowering. He also anticipates how being a player who is gay and out brings with it potential challenges, saying “it’s an easy thing for people to target”.

Football v Homophobia believes football authorities and decision-makers must heed how this expectation still exists and the role it plays in preventing other gay and bi players in the men’s game from being their authentic selves.

Increasingly, young people who are LGBTQ+ are more readily able to determine and articulate their sexual orientation and gender identity compared to previous generations. The 2021 ‘Growing Up LGBT+’ survey from the charity Just Like Us found 49% of 11-18 year-olds who are LGBTQ+ are out to at least one family member.

However, it remains daunting for LGBTQ+ young people to be visible in sport. Metro Charity’s most recent Youth Chances study noted how over a third of LGBTQ+ young people (34%) are not able to be open about their sexuality or gender identity at a sports club they are involved in.

These findings align with some of the football experiences of our FvH Youth Panel members too. Connecting with other LGBTQ+ people and allies has helped each of them in their personal development.

It’s encouraging therefore to hear Jake’s advice to other footballers who can relate to him “If you are ready, just speak to the closest people around you,” he says. “Start with a small group… you are going to get support.”

Jake’s journey reminds us that football is for everyone – but only with support from everyone in the game can we bring forth more stories of liberation, not discrimination.