Football fans on gay semi-pro player coming out: ‘If you live in the real world, it’s not an issue’

Illustrated rainbow pride flag on a white background.

Fans of Gainsborough Trinity, the team of a recently out semi-professional footballer, have offered a supportive response to his announcement that he is gay.

Liam Davis, a winger for Gainsborough Trinity, came out in an interview with the Lincolnshire Echo two weeks ago.

In doing so, he became the first openly-gay semi-professional or professional footballer in the UK, still playing.

The Lincolnshire Echo spoke to some fans at The Northolme, the club’s ground, at Davis’ first public appearance since coming out. Most only cared that the  team played to the best of its ability.

“If you live in the real world, it is not an issue,” Eddie Clarke, 40, told the Echo.

“In the time I have grown up it has got to the point where being gay is not an issue.

“It is only a matter for those who go to a game and use football as an excuse to act like a child.

“I mean, who cares? I think it’s only people who have not managed to get out and see the bigger picture who would make it an issue.”

Another fan, Derek Hare said: “He’s a young lad, he plays football, he’s gay. Why should that make him different from anybody else?”

These sentiments were echoed by Davis after the match who insisted that the fans would support any player as long as they played to the best of their abilities.

“They’ll back their own players as long as you are doing it week in, week out on the pitch. They will only turn on you if you’re not performing as a player…The manager though would have probably hauled you off before that point.

“They are not going to batter you from the stands because you are their player and you are there to do a job for their team. You would like to think that every set of supporters would be there for their players.

“I’d like to think that this has put out a positive message to people out there. And I’d like to think that if there is anyone who is worried about doing what I’ve done, or are thinking about it but are concerned, then hopefully this might put a few minds at rest and people will think differently about it now.

“Hopefully in the coming years, we will have more openly gay footballers playing at a good standard.”

Despite this, Davis said he had been overwhelmed at the exposure his coming out announcement got.

A week before Davis, 31-year-old former Premier League footballer Thomas Hitzlsperger made headlines around the world, after he revealed he is gay to a German newspaper.

Justin Fashanu was the first professional footballer in Britain to come out, in 1990, before he took his own life eight years later, aged 37.

Swedish lower league player Anton Hysen – son of former Liverpool defender Glenn Hysen – came out in an interview with a Swedish football magazine in 2011.

Former Leeds and US winger Robbie Rogers came out as gay and quit English football in February 2013.