Ian McKellen calls Jake Daniels a ‘hero’ as he comes out as gay: ‘What a goal he’s scored!’

17-year-old Daniels is the first male professional footballer from the UK to come out as gay in 32 years

Isobel Lewis
Tuesday 17 May 2022 19:02
UK footballer Jake Daniels comes out as gay

Ian McKellen has branded Blackpool player Jake Daniels a “hero” after becoming the first UK professional male footballer to come out as gay in 32 years.

On Monday (17 May), 17-year-old Daniels, who recently signed his first professional contract with the club, made history as he shared the news publicly that he is gay.

“I have been thinking for a long time about how I want to do it, when I want to do it,” he said. “I know now is the time. I am ready to be myself, be free and be confident with it all.”

Daniels’s announcement was met with a flurry of support, with veteran actor Ian McKellen praising him for “setting an example” in a tweet on Tuesday (17 May).

“At 17, @Jake_Daniels11 represents a generation that rejects old-fashioned homophobia in football and elsewhere: those who haven’t yet grown up as he has,” McKellen wrote.

“​​He sets an example. No wonder so many of us, gay and everyone else, admire & treasure him as a hero. What a goal he’s scored!”

In his interview, Daniels said that he’d known he was gay since he was five or six years old and had felt like he was “living a lie” before coming out.

He was supported by Prince William, the president of the FA, who tweeted that he hoped Daniels’s “decision to speak openly gives others the confidence to do the same”.

The last professional UK male footballer to come out as gay was Justin Fashanu in 1990.

Fashanu faced a fierce backlash from football fans and died by suicide in 1998. The fear of homophobic abuse has been a key reason for the lack of players coming out in the years since in subsequent years.

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