Jake Daniels: UK’s only active gay male professional footballer

The 17-year-old made the announcement public on Monday in a trailblazing moment for the English game

Sports Staff
Tuesday 17 May 2022 09:13
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Jake Daniels says he planned to wait until he was retired to come out as gay

Blackpool forward Jake Daniels has become the first openly gay male professional footballer in the UK.

The 17-year-old made the announcement public on Monday in a trailblazing moment for the English game.

“For a long time I’ve thought I would have to hide my truth because I wanted to be, and now I am, a professional footballer,” he told Sky Sports.

“I asked myself if I should wait until I’ve retired to come out. No other player in the professional game here is out.” 

The only openly gay man currently playing in a top division in world football is Josh Cavallo of Australian team Adelaide United.

The 22-year-old midfielder made the announcement in October. 

Daniels came through the junior system of the Championship club, joining their ranks aged seven.

He signed his first professional terms in February of this year before joining Northern Premier League side Bamber Bridge on loan for the remainder of the 2021/22 season.

He made his full Tangerines debut earlier this month, coming on as a late substitute in the 5-0 league defeat to Peterborough United.

Daniels is full of praise for Blackpool and his teammates.

"Blackpool have been absolutely amazing too. I am with them every day and I felt safe. My team-mates have all been so supportive about it and everyone has had my back," he added.

"They've been asking tons of questions, they have all been intrigued and their reaction has been brilliant. It's the best thing I could have asked for.

"Of course, everyone was kind of shocked in a way and they were asking why I didn't tell them earlier. That was a great reaction because it showed how much they cared.

"The captain was one of the main people I told and he also asked me loads of questions. In the end he just said, 'I'm just so proud of you'. It meant so much. I like it when people ask questions. I just want to get it all out and for people to hear my story."

Following his announcement, Daniels said he hopes to be a role model. 

“I am only 17 but I am clear that this is what I want to do and if, by me coming out, other people look at me and feel maybe they can do it as well, that would be brilliant,” he said. 

Charity Stonewall welcomed Daniels’ announcement and hailed his “incredible courage”.

"We are proud that Jake has felt able to share his truth with the world," they said in a statement. "To come out publicly as the UK’s first openly gay professional footballer in nearly 30 years takes incredible courage, and we’re heartened by the solidarity and support he has received from Blackpool FC and his teammates.

"Football is ready for this moment, and we believe it has been for some time. Our Rainbow Laces campaign has taught us that, while there is still a way to go, attitudes towards LGBTQ+ people in sport are changing. We are moving towards a world where players can live openly as their true selves, both on and off pitch - and that is something we can all take pride in.

"Stonewall is proud to provide ongoing support to Jake, his close network and Blackpool FC to navigate the challenges of coming out in the public eye. This is an opportunity for everyone involved in football – from the players to the fans in the stands – to support Jake and show that football is everybody’s game."

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