In 1990 Justin Fashanu became the first British professional footballer to come out as gay whilst still playing football, the troubled striker would commit suicide just eight years later. No British footballer has come out as homosexual since, but there are said to be numerous gay players in the English league system and in December 2016 a serving Member of Parliament confirmed as such when he revealed that the Football Association were in discussions with three big name players to manage their potential coming out.
Britain’s Gay Footballers is a 2012 documentary by Amal Fashanu, the niece of Justin Fashanu and daughter of his brother John Fashanu, she goes on a mission to attempt to understand what it is about football culture which prevents other players from going public with their sexuality. Among the people featuring in the documentary is Max Clifford the PR specialist and celebrity agent who stated that he had been paid by several Premier League stars to keep their homosexuality secret.
Amal Fashanu also has to come to terms with some of her own families darker secrets, including the attitude that her own father had towards Justin’s decision to come out as gay including offering to pay him to stay in the closet. John Fashanu was still in denial about his brothers sexuality after his death, appearing on a popular national radio station to claim that Justin was just an attention seeker. The life and death of Justin Fashanu was also the subject of the documentary Fallen Hero.
There have been posthumous biographies published about Fashanu for those who want to learn more, the most recent and possibly the best researched is the 2013 Nick Baker book Forbidden Forward: The Justin Fashanu Story, published by Reid Publishing and available in hardcover or kindle editions.