First Premier League Footballer Announces He is Gay
There are an estimated 540 football players registered in the Premier League, and around 1.5% of the British population is homosexual, according to ONS (Office of National Statistics). Doing the maths, this means there are around 8 current Premier League footballers who are gay, and not a single one has come out and admitted it. And why is that?
There is still so much stigma about homosexuality, with many misconceptions. If you believe all of the talk, your sexuality can affect strength, personality, masculinity and femininity, and most of all – the ability to play football.
Thomas Hitzlsperger is a former Aston Villa, Everton and West Ham midfielder, with a left-footed kick powerful enough to earn him the nickname ‘Der Hammer’. He also captained Germany more than than 50 times, but had to retire from football because of persistent injuries. Undoubtably there will have been many people out there who think that all of these qualities of Hitzlsperger show him to be a big, strong, macho, heterosexual male.
But Mr Hitzlsperger has done something that takes much more courage and strength than playing football does. He has become the first Premier League player to come out and openly admitted he is gay. “It’s all been very positive, and it was quite intense too,” he said. “I knew it could be big news, but after a few days I realised it was big news.”
Hitzlsperger explained that he had been inspired after reading about John Amaechi (first NBA star to speak publicly about being gay), Gareth Thomas (who announced he was gay two years before he retired from rugby), and Tom Daly, Olympic diver, who announced he is in a relationship with a man at the end of last year, but is still attracted to women.
Although Hitzlsperger does not play football in the Premier League any more, he believes that someone currently in the Premier League will eventually feel comfortable enough to come out as gay. He said that although the other athletes were not footballers, they helped him to see that he wasn’t on his own.
Mr Hitzlsperger was actually in an 8-year-long relationship with fiancee Inga Totzauer, before breaking it off about a month before they were meant to be married. He said he didn’t realise he is gay at the time and has only done so “in the last few years”.
Ultimately, what he wants is for those footballers who are secretly gay to use him as an example: to realise that being gay does not make you weak. Hitzlsperger thinks that when some of these players are completely sure of their feelings, they will be able to come forward. When these players are able to talk about it in the way that Hitzlsperger has, he hopes that they will be able to see that they can still be professional footballers and that sexuality does not affect the ability to be great at something perceived as ‘macho’. He wants everyone to know that homosexual football players, or anyone, in fact, “can play at the highest level and be gay.”