Much has been said and made of Thomas Hitzlsperger’s decision to ‘come out’ as gay over the last few days – and a majority of it is a delight to read.
The reaction has been nothing but positive for the former German international midfielder, who spent time in England playing for Aston Villa, West Ham and Everton, signs that we are beginning to live in a far more tolerant world.
Hitzlsperger was known on the pitch for his bravery and strength in the tackle, as well as having a venomous shot and he has shown this bravery in his decision – a decision which he hopes will help others in the future.
All you have to do is rewind a few decades and to the case of Justin Fashanu, a promising, talented football who made the decision to make his sexual orientation public, eight years later he had killed himself.
The torment and ridicule he was forced to face from the terraces of football grounds the length and breadth of the country was nothing short of barbaric, a sign of the attitudes of the time.
The sexual orientation of a professional footballer, or any sports star, in fact any person, is irrelevant to the job they do and therefore should in theory not even be news but in this case, the positive reaction from around the footballing world has justified Hitzlsperger’s decision to come out.
But as mentioned, a positive reaction can only be a good thing and can only lead to more positive discussion about homosexuality and can hopefully create a climate where any footballer, if/when it comes down to it, feels safe and secure to come out whilst they are still in their playing days.
Another shinning example, is of former Leeds midfielder Robbie Rodgers, currently playing in America, who publicly revealed his sexuality last year. He received a great welcome on his return to England, and Elland Road over Christmas, a feature of which was shown on the Football League Show.
As I have mentioned, it should not have to be news but the only way for it to get to that place is with the positive reaction, the reaction which will continue to help to continue to change attitudes towards homosexuality, and hopefully create a change for the best.