Monday, February 12, 2007

Back to LGBT history month, and the reason this person is history is because he was a victim of homophobia and eventually committed suicide. Even today very few sports personalities are prepared to risk their careers by coming out. This is especially true of male players in team sports. But Justin Fashanu came out in 1990 with tragic consequences.

Justin Fashanu (1961-1998)
Justin Fashanu (1961-1998)

Following their parents splitting up, Justin and younger brother John went into care at Barnardo's home in Barkingside. About three years later they were adopted by a married couple living in Attleborough, near Norwich.

Justin played for Norwich City between 1979 and 1981 when he transferred to Nottingham Forest for an almost unprecedented £1m. Soon afterwards Nottingham's manager, Brian Clough, heard rumours about Justin being gay, but instead of being supportive Clough continually taunted him about it, which dented his confidence resulting in a sharp decline in his skills.

Having been demoralised by years of homophobia his personality began to change and when, in 1990, he came out to The Sun much of his story was fabricated. John, his brother, was horrified that Justin had come out and wanted nothing more to do with him. In 1998 after allegations of impropriety, Justin, with nowhere to turn, committed suicide by hanging himself in a London garage.

More about Justin Fashanu

Last week the Football Association announced that, as with racist abuse, homophobic abuse is to be explicitly banned from football stadiums. That would have been an appropriate story for Newsround to report - at least on its website or on Sportsround. But as I expected there was nothing.

It's almost a year since Tottenham launched a campaign to stamp out homophobic chanting at their White Hart Lane ground. That wasn't reported either. In fact Newsround continues to discriminate against lgbt people by invisibilising them, and it also remains silent about news to combat prejudice against them. You might be fooled into thinking it's still 1961, the year Justin Fashanu was born, and the year Victim appeared in British cinemas.

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