Arsenal and England star Beth Mead has encouraged more gay male footballers to come out.
There is currently an LBGTQ+ gap between the men’s and women’s game, with open homosexuality much more common in the latter.
There is currently just one openly gay male footballer across England’s top four divisions, with Blackpool’s 17-year-old striker Jake Daniels coming out in May, while Zander Murray became the first Scottish player to come out last week.
Daniels become England’s first openly gay male footballer since Justin Fashanu in 1990 and it is not just in the United Kingdom where there is an LBGTQ+ gap, with the situation similar in a lot of countries around the world.
‘Obviously for the men right now, they have to put it out in the media to then see what reaction they get and I get the culture in the men’s game is still very different and it is much, much harder,’ Mead told Sky Sports.
‘But for me, I want to bridge that gap and help the men as much as the women. I’ve tried to make it the norm rather than a statement.
‘It shouldn’t be frowned upon. It should be the norm. I think there is this hierarchy of what people expect and how the older generation see it.
‘Everyone has their opinion but for me, it now has to be the norm and like I said, you can’t help who you fall in love with. If you are happy, that is all that matters.’
Unfortunately, there have been several incidents of homophobic abuse in England even in recent years when society has appeared to become a lot more tolerant.
Former Chelsea midfielder Billy Gilmour was subjected to homophobic chants from a section of Liverpool fans while on loan at Norwich in August 2021, while Leeds fans chanted homophobic slurs at Conor Gallagher three months later.
It is not just a problem in the Premier League but in England’s lower leagues too, with Manny Monthe handed a seven-game ban in December for making a homophobic comment during a League Two game between Tranmere and Forest Green.
Former Premier League boss Ian Holloway said in January of this year: ‘Being brutally honest, I do believe football is homophobic.’
The Premier League and English Football League are still attempting to eradicate homophobia from English football, having teamed up with LBGTQ+ charity Stonewall and anti-discrimination organisation Kick It Out years ago.
MORE : Blackpool forward Jake Daniels becomes first pro footballer to come out as gay in 32 years
MORE : ‘I stopped playing sport – until I discovered gay teams exist’
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