The first openly gay English pro footballer since Justin Fashanu, Thomas Beattie, says it was fans stopping him coming out – not the players
Thomas Beattie has said it is football fans, not the players, who are stopping more footballers from coming out as LGBT+.
Beattie came out publicly as gay last month, making him the first English professional footballer to come out since Justin Fashanu in 1990. Other international players such as Robbie Rogers and Thomas Hitzlsperger have come out since retiring from British football.
The 33-year-old former Hull City AFC attacking midfielder told the Daily Mail that the dressing room – long stereotyped as a place reeking of homophobia – isn’t what most assume it to be.
For Beattie, who has several abs, it’s the people packing the stands that are more likely to take issue with a player’s sexual orientation.
Thomas Beattie: Football has been ‘sheltered’ from diversity.
“The dressing room isn’t what people maybe say,” he said. “You would hear the odd homophobic word, but usually they are words and not feelings.
“To be honest, especially now, a dressing room is so diverse – people from all ethnicities. You just can’t be a fundamentally discriminating person in that environment.”
When asked whether reactions from supporters remains an issue for players wanting to come out, he said: “Definitely.
“Society has the biggest part to play in all this.”
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The entrepreneur elaborated on this in an interview on Good Morning Britain Thursday (July 2) where he said that the football industry has been “sheltered” from diversity.
Last week, former Hull City player @IamTomBeattie came out as gay. He is only the second British male footballer to do so and explains why now felt like the right time for him.
'There's still a lot that needs to be done within sport and outside of sport.' pic.twitter.com/h1aAqcAn7h
— Good Morning Britain (@GMB) July 2, 2020
“I think it’s important to have more visibility and awareness of different sexual orientations within sport and society, as a culture, we’ve been a little bit sheltered from it… there’s a lot of systemic prejudice towards it.”
Beattie said that as more players come out, he has no doubt it will “benefit society and inside and outside sport”.
He added, “There’s still a lot that needs to be done within sport and outside of sport,” explaining how the football scene stalled his coming out and anti-homophobia policies within the sport are “blurry”. But the overwhelmingly positive reception made him realise that he could have come out “sooner” than he did, “but hindsight is really easy.”