Richie Anderson is a personality on BBC local radio who recently hosted a special segment about homophobia in soccer on the TV show ‘The One Show.’ The issue hits home for Anderson, who is gay and also plays on a soccer team.
He took the opportunity of the filming of the special to come out to his team after a match, sitting them down in the dressing room and nervously sharing his truth.
“I’m a gay footballer,” he told them, “so I just want to be open and honest because, with you lads, it’s just been class, and this is really hard for me to do, but I just kind of felt like…”
They didn’t let him finish his thought before erupting into applause and cheers, congratulating him for being his true self.
“There’s going to be absolutely no difference whatsoever,” one of the teammates told ‘The One Show.’ “Richie is Richie. It doesn’t matter who you are, what color, what race, what sexuality you are. You’re a player for this team and that’s it.”
I’ve never loved the idea of filming coming-out conversations, as it puts everyone involved in an awkward situation.
Yet more and more, as the responses become nearly universally positive and centered on acceptance, the need to do it in private away from the cameras is fading. One athlete told Outsports recently that his coming out to his teammates was like saying what city he’s from; It’s just that matter-of-fact to them.
The ease by which the conversation went, and the support Anderson immediately received from his teammates, undercuts much of the nonsense we keep hearing about how homophobic English soccer is. While nearly every single coming-out story in sports – particularly by men and women in their late teens and older – we know of has been positive across North America and England, some try to claim English soccer is this horrible bastion of homophobia. It isn’t, and Anderson’s story continues to erode that stereotype.
Anderson said he wanted to come out the way he did to show other gay men in soccer that they can also come out to their teams. Mission accomplished.