Jake Daniels: Blackpool player’s bravery will change the lives of LGBTIQ people
Not a day went by without someone using the occasional homophobic language. Each utterance like a dagger in the heart, further nullifying my sense of self worth.
I would dread PE so much that I would fake an injury or illness. I often got in trouble for skipping class, but I was more willing to face the teachers’ scorn and the inevitable punishments than being in a locker room where terms like “f*g” or “that’s gay were thrown away like they meant nothing.
In the end, I completely stopped playing.
The most tragic part of my story is that it is far from unique. I am one of countless LGBTIQ people who have experienced this. So much so that it is difficult to comprehend the great sum of all those lost opportunities and those youthful years spent in fear.
These days, I’m still passionately involved in sports. I’m a huge Liverpool fan and proud subscriber of Harlequins, where I helped found professional rugby’s first LGBTIQ supporters association. But I always wonder what could have been.
If I had had someone like Jake Daniels to look up to at the time, a proud, proud gay professional gamer, it would have changed my life and my whole sense of self worth.
Maybe I would have continued to play. Maybe the bullies would have seen for themselves that there’s nothing weird about being gay and playing sports.
Replicate this scenario millions of times and the impact of the performance is evident.
That’s why Daniels’ story is so important and why adults like me are so moved by it.
His courage will change lives, especially those of young athletes, just by being himself.
And from the bottom of my heart, I thank him.