“Breaking that silence means emerging from the closet of shame. To proclaim oneself openly as gay is, above all else, to come out of shame – profoundly, to break the silence. This is why the term “Coming Out “ is a shame metaphor’ – Gershen Kaufman and Lev Raphael (Coming Out of Shame – Transforming Gay and Lesbian Lives)
I remember being a closeted 22 year old, when the footballer Justin Fashanu came out in 1990. It was the talk of the office, as we all watched from the sidelines to see how the story would unfold. Sadly, that story did not have a happy ending, for whilst Justin had taken the bold and courageous step to come out, he was not met by a world ready to embrace a footballer, who happened to be gay. Regardless of how that story concluded, I continue to be inspired by the courage displayed by Justin, and his story certainly gave me the courage to eventually come out and live my life as an openly gay man.
Yesterday, almost 23 years after Justin became the first openly gay footballer associated with English football, another footballer came out as gay. The player in question was 25 year old, US born Robbie Rogers, who had played for the US and Leeds United. Whilst Justin’s coming out had provided the tabloid press with stories reinforcing certain stereotypes of gay men around the issue of sex, Robbie’s coming out was very different, as he took us on a journey that many gay men travel, in their quest to live an authentic life. Robbie showed us what lies beneath the surface of the masks that many gay men have learnt to wear. In his note, Robbie says –
“Things are never what they seem….. My whole life I have felt different, different from my peers and even different from my family………” Continue Reading →