Jake Daniels inspired to come out by Tom Daley: ‘I watched that message over and over’

Jake Daniels (L) and Tom Daley (R). (Getty)

Jake Daniels, the only professional UK male footballer who’s openly gay, has revealed how diver Tom Daley inspired him to come out.

In a new Channel 4 documentary, Out and Proud in Football, the 17-year-old Blackpool footballer opens up about his journey accepting his sexuality with fellow queer athlete Daley.

Daniels explains that Daley’s 2021 Alternative Christmas message saying all it would take is if “one impossibly brave Premier League player steps forward and says: ‘I am gay'”, deeply impacted him.

“In football, being gay is a taboo – even now. So I had a choice, either live my life as a lie and carry on playing football or come out and have to quit,” Daniels explains in the documentary.

“I saw Tom talking on Channel 4 on Christmas Day. He spoke about homophobia in sport, and how amazing it would be and what a difference it would make if one brave player came out as gay.

“I watched that message over and over, and over again. Eventually, with the support of my friends and family and support of Tom, I decided to come out.”

You may like to watch

In an interview with Sky Sports in May, Daniels said he thought he would always “have to hide his truth” due to being a professional footballer.

But after realising he didn’t want to lie, decided to come out.

“I am hoping that by coming out I can be a role model, to help others come out if they want to,” he said at the time.

Similar to Daniels, Daley also came out around the age of 18, in 2013, and has since become an activist for LGBTQ+ rights in sport.

Earlier this year he presented his own documentary about global homophobia, Tom Daley: Illegal To Be Me.

Unfortunately football’s legacy when it comes to LGBTQ+ inclusion continues to be abysmal.

Jake Daniels is the first professional footballer to come out in the UK since Justin Fashanu in 1990, whose career was haunted by homophobia until he tragically took his own life.

Globally, Daniels joins Josh Cavallo, an Australian top-flight footballer who came out in October 2021 and has since opened up about his own experiences of homophobia.

Both Daniels and Cavallo spoke out against the 2022 FIFA Qatar World Cup being held in a country with brutal anti-LGBTQ+ laws.

“I know [some] people wanted to boycott it, which would have been good, but the World Cup’s massive. If you’re comfortable to go and do it, you do it,” Daniels told Vogue.

“It would frustrate me, because why am I trying to hide my personal life for other people? Like, I’m going to play football for you and you can’t respect how I want to be, so it’s just not what I want to do.”

Out and Proud in Football will be available on All 4 on 28 December.

Please login or register to comment on this story.