Jake Daniel has publicly come out to declare his sexuality as gay. The 17-year-old rose from the Academy football of Blackpool, where he has contributed enormously to the club, scoring 30 goals. A milestone record that has helped him sign his first professional contract with Blackpool senior team.
Daniel Jake is not the only known professional football player to have announced publicly his sexuality. In 1990, Justin Fashanu was the UK’s first professional football player to come out as gay, but his career was cut short by homophobia before he took his life. Justin Fashanu died on 2 May 1998 at Hackney, London, England aged 37.
Sometimes in October last year, Adelaide midfielder Josh Cavallo publicly announced his gay status. The 22-year-old became the first active known professional football player in Australia’s top-flight to be recognized as gay.
“I have been fighting my sexuality for over six years now, and I’m glad I can put that to rest,” Josh Cavallo wrote.
The 17-year-old Blackpool forward revealed he has been hiding his real self but feels it’s time to let it out. He further said he was inspired by other known athletes who have announced in public their sexuality and encouraged others to come out and not keep silent about their sexuality status.
In his words during a press briefing as gathered by The News Chronicle, Daniel Jake said:
“This season has been a fantastic one for me on the pitch. I’ve made my first-team debut, scored 30 goals for the youth team, signed my first professional contract, and shared success with my teammates, going on a great run in the FA Youth Cup and lifting the Lancashire FA Pro-Youth Cup.
But off the pitch I’ve been hiding the real me and who I am. I’ve known my whole life that I’m gay, and I now feel that I’m ready to come out and be myself.
It’s a step into the unknown of being one of the first footballers in this country to reveal my sexuality, but I’ve been inspired by Josh Cavallo, Matt Morton, and athletes from other sports, like Tom Daley, to have the courage and determination to drive change.
In reaching this point, I’ve had some of the best support and advice from my family, my Club, my agent, and Stonewall, who have all been incredibly proactive in putting my interests and welfare first. I have also confided in my teammates in the youth team here at Blackpool, and they too have embraced the news and supported my decision to open up and tell people.
I’ve hated lying my whole life and feeling the need to change to fit in. Furthermore, I want to be a role model myself by doing this.
There are people out there in the same space as me that may not feel comfortable revealing their sexuality. I just want to tell them that you don’t have to change who you are, or how you should be, just to fit in.
You being you, and being happy, is what matters most”.
Blackpool in a statement said it is working closely with Stonewall and the relevant footballing organizations to support Jake and is incredibly proud that he has reached a stage where he is empowered to express himself both on and off the pitch.
It is vital that we all promote an environment where people feel comfortable being themselves, and that football leads the way in removing any form of discrimination and prejudice.