John Fashanu admits he did ‘a horrible thing’ paying his late brother Justin not to come out as Britain’s first gay footballer
John Fashanu has admitted the shame he feels over paying his late brother Justin a substantial amount of money to not come out as Britain’s first openly gay footballer.
Justin Fashanu publicly came out as gay in 1990. He tragically died by suicide eight years later at the age of 37 having received a battering by both the media and the world of football.
More than 20 years on, his brother John — who is a former professional footballer and television presenter — has spoken about the time he paid Justin £75,000 to not come out as gay.
In an interview on Good Morning Britain, he said he gave his brother the money to stop him from “embarrassing” their family.
John Fashanu regrets his failed efforts to keep Justin’s sexuality a secret.
He said football was very different in the 1990s, and that male footballers had to portray an image of being “masculine and heterosexual” in order to succeed.
An openly gay player would have “rocked the boat”, he said, explaining why he made a significant payment to his brother to try to keep him in the closet.
“You have to understand this was decades ago and people were thinking differently,” he said.
“It was a horrible thing.”
I paid him a substantial amount of money to not come out and say he was gay, so when he came out and said he was gay, that was a little bit too much.
John continued: “[Justin] was a great guy, hindsight is a wonderful thing and I remember vividly trying to not make him come out.
“I didn’t want him to be embarrassed, me to be embarrassed, my children to be embarrassed.”
He also revealed that following Justin’s coming out, crowds routinely thought John was the one who was gay, and he faced homophobic chants during matches.
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Justin Fashanu was ‘outcast’ by his family when he came out.
John also spoke about his brother’s death on an episode of reality show Celebrity SAS: Who Dares Wins earlier this week.
“He was the first black one million pound footballer, but he was gay. We could just not accept that at all as a family, the whole family,” he said.
“He was outcast, with a big boot. I remember I paid him a substantial amount of money to not come out and say he was gay, so when he came out and said he was gay, that was a little bit too much.”
Speaking about the hounding his brother went through, Fashanu explained: “Unfortunately, he then decided he couldn’t go on. God rest his soul, he [died by] suicide, he decided that was the best way out for himself.”
Asked if he still feels guilt over his brother’s death, he added: “Every day. There’s not a time when he doesn’t come into my mind.”