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Jake Daniels’ coming out will be “absolutely key” as UK celebrates 50 years of LGBT+ Pride

EXCLUSIVE: Blackpool star Daniels became the first English footballer to come out for more than 30 years to mark a high point as the UK celebrates the 50th anniversary of LGBT+ Pride marches

Jake Daniels’ coming out marks a high point for the LGBT+ community as the UK celebrates 50 years of Pride

The UK’s LGBT+ community celebrates the 50th anniversary of the first Pride march to be held in the country this year, with June the traditional month for those protests and parades.

For more than 30 years, football’s closest connection to the community at the elite level has been the Rainbow Laces campaigns of recent times. But all of that changed in May, when Jake Daniels became the first English professional footballer since Justin Fashanu to come out as gay.

It was a high point in what is a year of celebration, though there remains a long way to go in the search for equality for LGBT+ people across the world. That is something that is driven home by Leatherhead boss Luke Tuffs, who is English football’s highest-placed openly gay manager.

“Growing up, I didn’t really have anyone to look up to or anything like that. Certainly in days gone by it was something that was very hidden away as well. So for me, it shows that there are other people who are exactly the same and actually it’s ok to be who you are and you can still be successful,” he said exclusively to Mirror Football.

“Look in America right now, recently they changed the law where it [being LGBT+] can’t be spoken about in schools and things like that. There’s how ever many countries in the world where it is still illegal.

“And look out our football here in our country, there’s only one out professional player, so there’s still a long way to go. So again, it’s things like this that makes life easier for the next generation. Very, very important.”

England’s highest-placed openly gay manager Luke Tuffs has hailed Daniels for his bravery



Tuffs’ point about the ongoing fight is driven home by James Cole, who is chairman of Village Manchester FC. The club are one of the leading LGBT+ inclusive teams in the UK, having recently won the GFSN Cup, though Cole believes there is still progress to be made.

“I’m one of those people that Pride means the fight that we had to be recognized as equals. Obviously, I love the celebrations and I think it’s fantastic that we can go out and celebrate and we have massive parades. It’s wonderful that Pride is a celebration but for me it will always be about the fight that we had,” he told Mirror Football exclusively.

“If you think about it, in any other situation, somebody coming out in 2022 would be kind of irrelevant really which is how it ought to be. But the fact that a footballer came out and it was front page news.

“We think of the UK as an advanced Western democracy but there’s still so much work to do. And there’s still places around the world that don’t see gay people and LGBT+ people in the same way that we see them here. There’s clearly still so much work to be done.”

Cole does though believe that Daniels’ coming out can be a huge step forward for the LGBT+ community’s relationship with football. And he encouraged teams at the top level to continue to show their support for both Pride and Rainbow Laces to keep the momentum up.

“Especially talking about top level football teams here that accept and are happy to have gay people at their grounds, in their teams, it’s really, really, really easy for a non-straight person to feel like they don’t belong somewhere, to the point where they won’t even consider going,” Cole added.

Village Manchester won their third successive GFSN Cup last month but their chairman believes there is more work to do


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“Visibility is a huge thing, the more visible we are, the more backlash we get, but the more visible we are, the more we become accepted. But it’s so easy to talk yourself out of something because of a small minority of idiots who just hate you because of who you are.

“To have Premier League clubs saying ‘this is our LGBT+ fan group, we support them, they support us, it’s fantastic’ – that’s the sort of thing we need for people to be able to say ‘actually I do like football and I want to go see my team and I feel like I can’.

“I really hope that more players come out. Jake Daniels represents the point where the balance is tipping between people who feel like they can come out after their career is over and people who feel like they can come out before their career has really begun. That’s such a wonderful place to have reached.”

The role models that Daniels and Australian player Josh Cavallo can act as for young LGBT+ people will be key in making football more inclusive. And Tuffs is confident that their bravery in coming out can help other young footballers to truly be themselves.

“The amount of people who will go through their footballing career and will think they are the only one or will feel very alone or are worried about what happens, I think what we’ve seen is that all the initiatives that are going on at the moment, that’s what helped young Jake to take the brave step that he did,” he said.

“It’s a massive thing that Jake’s taken that step, but it isn’t just players, it’s referees who have come out recently in Scotland, it’s anyone around the game who shows people they are not alone and actually you can be who you are and be successful.That will make such a difference to so many young people.

“Visibility is absolutely key. When I was very young I had no one to look up to. The amount of people that are out there that still aren’t comfortable or are worried it will affect their career, the more people that do show visibility and especially are successful, changes opinions and again that makes things easier.”

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