Football player Jake Williamson recently opened up about growing up gay, and experiencing homophobia from his own team.
Williamson has loved sports since he was a child, and he began playing semi-professional football at the age of 16. He played for a Polish football team after university for a brief moment, but he eventually decided to pursue a career as a personal trainer instead.
Growing up gay and feeling fully accepted hadn’t been easy for the footballer, and he didn’t think that he could ever come out.
“In my own head when I was growing up… [I thought], ‘I don’t fit in, I’m never going to come out, I’m going to live this life with a wife and kids, and that was going to be me,’” he shared in an interview with PinkNews.
Williamson planned to move to Chicago to work as a gym trainer, but it was put to a halt by COVID-19. He then met his partner at the age of 21, which changed everything, as he ended up coming out at the height of the pandemic.
The football player described the experience being “tough in itself,” but things got even more difficult when he experienced homophobia from his own teammates.
After coming out, Williamson moved to Birmingham, where he started playing for a Sunday football league. Thereafter, he opened up about being a gay football player in an interview with BBC’s LGBT Sport Podcast, and it turns out, his team wasn’t happy about it.
“I then experienced homophobia for the first time. I was completely shut out of the team.
It’s bad enough that, in the society we live in, we get made to feel like we’re the worst thing on earth sometimes – so it’s not nice when your own football team just cuts you off,” he shared.
The athlete admitted that he still gets “angry” and “upset” about what happened, but that didn’t hinder him from playing the sport that he loves. After being kicked out of his football team, Williamson decided to share his experiences as a gay athlete on social media.
“It didn’t stop me playing football but it was something that made me say: ‘Right, I need to address this rather than be sad about it,’” he stated.
The footballer has become a sports ambassador for LGBTQ+ charity Stonewall, and he is seeing the difference that sharing his story has made.
“I’m no one special – I just thought that I needed to have a voice and show that these are the difficulties that people face.
I’ve seen the impact it’s had. The amount of messages I’ve had, the amount of people who’ve taken part in Q&As on Instagram – it is making a difference,” Williamson expressed.