Footballer who bravely came out as bisexual ‘brought close to tears’ by teammates’ kind gesture

Jahmal Howlett-Mundle Sheppey United footballer photographed during a match

Footballer Jahmal Howlett-Mundle has said he “didn’t realise the impact” coming out as bisexual could have on others.

The Sheppey United football player came out to his teammates on the pitch in July, saying he hoped opening up about his sexuality would help others to “follow suit”.

Speaking to The Athletic, Jahmal Howlett-Mundle said the incredible public response to his coming out had been “overwhelming”.

“The encouragement I received from team-mates and staff got me a lot of attention I didn’t expect,” Howlett-Mundle said.

“I didn’t realise the impact it could have. It’s overwhelming, but the amount of beautiful messages I’ve had and the conversations since, I’m really glad I did it.”

Jahmal Howlett-Mundle was ‘convinced’ coming out would garner negative reactions

He continued: “I convinced myself it would be easier to expect a negative reaction rather than a positive one – if I expect something negative then at least it is what I thought it would be.

Howlett-Mundle went on to praise his Sheppey United teammates, saying they had been “great ever since”. He recalled how a teammate, Billy Bennett, was the first to “say something in the huddle”, and how all his teammates began clapping, bringing him close to tears.

Sadly, the 24-year-old footballer said he found himself on the receiving end of homophobic abuse during a league match, which he described as “regrettably unsurprising but nevertheless still extremely hurtful”.

However, he believes LGBT+ visibility in sport is essential for young people who will follow in his footsteps.

“Abuse will come. Unfortunately, that’s part and parcel of the game. I’m at at stage where I won’t react and it won’t get under my skin if this happens.”

Howlett-Mundle went on to say that he is “still elated” following his momentous coming out.

“I didn’t expect to be in the position I am now, which is incredible.

“I was scared for many years about coming out but now I feel in the best place I have been.”

Howlett-Mundle’s latest comments come after he drew attention to the lack of openly queer footballers working at a professional level following his coming out.

“Football still has room for improvement in terms of players coming out and being themselves, but with the likes of Thomas Hitzlsperger and Thomas Beattie having done so, it’s slowly starting to evolve,” he said in a statement in July.

“We have seen other sports people like Gareth Thomas and Tom Daley come out years ago and they are great role models for people like me,” he added.