Arsenal welcomes bisexual footballer who faced abuse from rivals: ‘Inclusion has no off-season’
Bisexual footballer Jahmal Howlett-Mundle made his Arsenal debut this weekend – in a one-off appearance on the pitch in a bid to see LGBTQ+ inclusivity in the sport become a “year-round thing”.
Howlett-Mundle, who has been targeted by homophobic abuse since coming out in July 2021, joined the Premier League team to mark its support for Stonewall’s Rainbow Laces campaign.
Rainbow Laces aims to support LGBTQ+ inclusion across sport, with supporters wearing rainbow laces to get conversations started.
The Sunday (30 October) match at the Emirates Stadium against Nottingham Forest saw Arsenal win 5-0, and Howlett-Mundle recalled the Gunners as always being “one of the toughest teams to play against”.
Howlett-Mundle, who plays for Ramsgate in the Isthmian League, told the Arsenal Programme being part of the campaign shows how much progress he has made during his journey.
‘Inclusion has no off-season’
“A year and a half ago, I wouldn’t have imagined I would have the opportunity to support such an amazing campaign at a beautiful stadium like the Emirates,” he said.
The 25-year-old recognised that campaigns such as Rainbow Laces are “extremely important throughout the footballing pyramid”.
“This year’s theme is ‘Inclusion has no off-season’, and rightly so.
“Support for the LGBT+ community should be a year-round thing and Stonewall are doing an excellent job in making that the case.”
In a bid to continue advocating inclusivity in the sport Howlett-Mundle has joined the newly launched LGBTQ+ Professionals in Football Collective – a network group aimed at providing connections and guidance related to inclusion for those in football.
He said: “The discussions we have are always thought-provoking and inspiring.
“When anybody does something positive we are all there to congratulate each other, and when somebody has unfortunately had a negative experience we will let them know that they are loved and appreciated.”
Howlett-Mundle urged people who are going through their own journey to “take your time in understanding what being your authentic self means to you”.
“I’ve found that speaking openly with those that are closest to me has given me the freedom to branch out and be more expressive in other areas of my life, but it has not been an overnight increase in confidence, so be patient.”
Howlett-Mundle was subjected to homophobic abuse by a Tower Hamlets player shortly after he came out as bisexual. The player was later fined and ordered to perform unpaid community service.
The semi-professional player has been open about the impact his coming out has had on others, and while speaking to The Athletic, he said the public’s response has been “overwhelming”.
In a separate interview he noted that there is a “sort of stigma” in football around coming out.
PinkNews has contacted Jahmal Howlett-Mundle for further comment.
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