Darren Purse: A Red Card Homophobia Champion
Not a lot of people are comfortable discussing homophobia. In the world of football, many personalities involved in the sport are not brave enough to share their opinions on the matter publicly. Thankfully, courage is one of the inspiring qualities of this month’s “Red Card Homophobia Champion,” Darren Purse.
In an interview in The Guardian, Purse shared his sincere thoughts on the issue of gay footballers coming out of the closet. Unlike other football players who would rather not speak on the topic, Purse, who is team captain of Sheffield Wednesday FC, felt encouraged to share his thoughts after the coming out of personal friend and rugby player Gareth “Alfie” Thomas. “I’m thick-skinned and why shouldn’t I talk about it?” he said.
The 33-year-old defender believes that it is important for people to be true to themselves; however, they have to be ready to face the challenges that the outside world may throw their way. He said, “I’d like to say: ‘Life’s too short and you need to be happy.’ It must be horrible going to work and hiding such an important part of yourself. Imagine doing that every day in a career that lasts 15 years. But I’d have to think very carefully before I advised a young footballer to come out.”
The last part of Purse’s statement came from seeing the homophobic abuse received by Justin Fashanu, the first and only Premier League footballer to announce publicly that he was gay. After eight years out of the closet, Fashanu took his own life.
Purse, who is still hopeful despite the tragedy that happened to Fashanu, said, “It seems a long way away but eventually things will change.” The former England Under-21 player points out that the presence of gay partnerships and gay marriages in some areas are proof that the world is becoming more open-minded and welcoming to homosexuals.
“One day every footballer should have the chance to be true to himself,” Purse said towards the end of the interview; a brave prediction that hopefully will inspire other people to end homophobia in the world’s most beautiful sport.