Jessica Fishlock: Lesbian footballer says school was ‘hell’ due to her sexuality

Welsh lesbian footballer Jessica Fishlock

Wales’ most capped footballer Jessica Fishlock has said her school days were “hell on earth” because of the abuse she received over her sexuality.

Welsh midfielder Fishlock, who has played 113 times for her country, told BBC Wales Live that she is speaking out as an openly lesbian footballer so that she can be a role model for children growing up.

“High school for me was hell on earth,” Fishlock told retired openly lesbian hockey player Beth Fisher, who conducted the interview for BBC Wales Live.

“It was everything I hated about everything. I was personally going through stuff that I didn’t understand that I needed to figure out.

“And then you are around people your age who are going through their own stuff, and the first thing that kids do when they are under pressure or don’t understand something is they throw stuff, whether it be verbally, mentally, they don’t even know they are doing it.”

The 32-year-old footballer, who is currently on loan to French team Olympique Lyonnais from US National Women’s Soccer League side Seattle Reign, said that her appearance contributed to the discrimination she faced at school.

“I was very active, very sporty, short hair at that time,” Fishlock explained.

“And I went through so many unnecessary things, like ‘why is she in the girls changing room?'”

Footballer Jessica Fishlock: My time at school was “hell on earth”

Fishlock added: “If you play football and you’re a woman, 90 percent of people automatically straightaway think you’re a lesbian.”

In 2018, Fishlock was awarded an MBE for her services to football and the LGBT+ community.

Fishlock explained that she realised she was gay from an early age and was comfortable with her sexuality.

“If you play football and you’re a woman, 90 percent of people automatically straightaway think you’re a lesbian.”

—Jessica Fishlock

However, the footballer said she soon realised that some other people perceived her sexuality in a negative way.

“I think I knew when I was 12 that I love women, right? Whatever,” she said.

“I remember the moment clear and I wasn’t mad about it. Like, it was OK. But the biggest thing for me was trying to manoeuvre my life with knowing that information. It wasn’t something I was scared of.

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“It wasn’t something that I just disliked and made me dislike myself for who I was. But I didn’t understand why it was such a negative thing. That’s where for me it was something that I just couldn’t really stand.”

The turning point was realising that I wasn’t the problem, says openly lesbian footballer Jessica Fishlock

She added: “The turning point for me was when I just realised that I wasn’t the problem. The problem was the society in school. Not the kids in school because they don’t understand; the society and the thought process around it was the problem.”

Footballer Jessica Fishlock

Jessica Fishlock (left) of Wales during the Women’s World Cup Qualifier match between England and Wales at St Mary’s Stadium on April 6, 2018 in Southampton, England. (Catherine Ivill/Getty)

The sportswoman, who has previously spoken out against homophobia on social media, went on to explain that she wants to be a role model for LGBT+ children, because of the online abuse she receives.

“I’m not the only one that gets abused,” she said.

“I am not the only one that gets comments thrown at them.

“It’s come round to my family and my sisters and my mum and my dad, so when I made that decision, you know I have to think about other people as well otherwise it’s very selfish of me.

“But there really is a big picture, and the bigger picture is generations of kids looking at a role model, looking at what they’ve achieved and understanding whatever they are going through.”

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