As we welcome the start of June, it also a chance to celebrate and reflect on the fiftieth anniversary of Pride in the UK.
It's been 50 years since the first Pride in London, where, in 1972, around 2000 people marched together calling for gay rights.
As significant a year for Pride itself, 2022 witnessed a momentous step forward in the world of football as 17 year old, Jake Daniels, became the first openly gay footballer in the UK since 1990 to come out as gay.
Prior to Jake's courageous and empowering announcement in May, it had been nearly 30 years since there was an openly gay player in the English Football League and, whilst there is still much that needs to change, attitudes towards LGBTQ+ people in sport are changing.
Liz Ward, Director of Programmes at Stonewall (she/her), said: ‘We are proud that Jake has felt able to share his truth with the world. To come out publicly as the UK’s first openly gay professional footballer in nearly 30 years takes incredible courage, and we’re heartened by the solidarity and support he has received from Blackpool FC and his teammates.
‘Football is ready for this moment, and we believe it has been for some time. Our Rainbow Laces campaign has taught us that, while there is still a way to go, attitudes towards LGBTQ+ people in sport are changing. We are moving towards a world where players can live openly as their true selves, both on and off pitch - and that is something we can all take pride in.
‘Stonewall is proud to provide ongoing support to Jake, his close network and Blackpool FC to navigate the challenges of coming out in the public eye. This is an opportunity for everyone involved in football – from the players to the fans in the stands – to support Jake and show that football is everybody’s game.'
Berks & Bucks FA, Inclusion Advisory Board, Chair, Rich Howgill, also reflected on the news: "Jake Daniels has been truly courageous in choosing to be honest and open about his sexuality as he embarks on his career in professional football.
"Our goal is that no-one should have to choose between being their authentic selves and being involved in the sport we all love - Jake's bravery and honesty is a significant moment on that journey and we support him 100% and wish him all the best in his career."
As an organisation we've made a commitment to inclusion in the game. Over the next season and beyond we will continue to work towards a future where everyone has the same opportunity to participate and enjoy our sport. Where everyone feels valued. Where everyone feels welcomed and respected.
No one should have to choose between participation and their own culture, identity, beliefs or circumstances.