Football referees comes out as gay to show that the beautiful game is for everyone

Football referees Craig Napier and Lloyd Wilson have both come out as gay in an effort to make the Scottish scene more LGBTQ-inclusive.

Weeks after Jake Daniels became the first English male professional footballer to come out as gay in three decades, the two Scottish referees have used Pride Month to come out and send a message to other football figures.

Napier, a Category One referee, shared his truth in a video posted to the Scottish Football Association’s official Twitter account on 2 June.

”It’s been a difficult journey to get to this point,” he said. “But over the last couple of years it’s become a lot easier, and I think it’s really important that people like me are willing to sit here and do this.”

“I don’t think this needs to be a news story, but at the moment – it really does,” he added.


Napier said that it is vital to bring about positive change in the sporting world.

“We need to see the climate change so that people feel they can be their true self and live happily and comfortably in their own skin,” he explained.

On the same day, lower league referee Lloyd Wilson also came out as gay in conversation with mental health charity Back Onside. 

Wilson described his journey as “17 years of living a life that I didn’t want to live” which was “probably dictated and directed in many ways by football.”

However, he emphasised the importance of sharing his truth, saying: “I feel that doing this interview, that I must say I’m petrified about, is absolutely crucial for my colleagues…who are battling this same journey”.

 Napier later shared that he has received “great support [after coming out] and the response to the video interview has been pretty humbling.”

“I’m glad I can offer a different perspective and maybe a bit of hope,” he concluded.

According to The Guardian, the referees are the first out gay participants in men’s Scottish football since Justin Fashanu, the English player who, after coming out in 1990, went on to play for Airdrie and then Hearts in 1993 and 1994.

Fashanu was the first professional football player to have come out publicly anywhere in the UK, but his career was tragically cut short by homophobia after he took his own life in 1998. 

In May, Blackpool forward Jake Daniels became the first British player in the professional men’s leagues to come out since Fashanu. 

Daniels received an outpouring of support from fans and sporting professionals, with Liz Ward, director of programmes at Stonewall, saying it took “incredible courage” for him to come out in a culture that has not always been supportive of the LGBTQ+ community.