Jake Daniels has just come out as the first openly gay male professional footballer in Britain. He said that he felt ready to be himself after ‘such a long time of lying’ about who he is.
The 17-year-old Blackpool forward told Sky Sports News that for a long time he thought he would have to hide his truth because he wanted to become a footballer, and managed.
‘I asked myself if I should wait until I’ve retired to come out. No other player in the professional game here is out’ he said. ‘However, I knew that would lead to a long time of lying and not being able to be myself or lead the life I want to.’
‘Since I’ve come out to my family, my club and my teammates, that period of overthinking everything and the stress it created has gone. It was impacting my mental health.’
The striker signed a professional contract with the club in February, scoring 30 goals for the under-19s this season. He made his first team debut earlier this month, on the last season game.
He revealed that he knew he was gay since the age of around five or six, but feared that his sexuality wasn’t compatible with his dream of becoming a professional footballer. ‘I’ve had girlfriends in the past to try and make all my mates think I’m straight, and it was just a massive cover-up. So it has been a struggle.’
The Professional Footballers Association (PFA) commended Daniels, saying that they are extremely proud of Jake. ‘He has the complete support of everyone at the PFA.’