FORMER Black Cat Kieron Brady is calling full time on homophobia.
Kieron – who now runs his own equality training business Celebrate Identity, Challenge Intolerance – has previously thrown his support behind the nationwide Justin Campaign.
Inspired by gay footballer Justin Fashanu, who committed suicide in 1998, the drive aims to highlight the problem of homophobia in the game.
But now Kieron has taken his commitment a step further, becoming a patron of Sunderland Pride, believed to be the first time a former footballer has accepted such a post with a gay rights organisation.
In his acceptance speech, the 41-year-old outlined the role he hoped to play.
“I hope I can contribute, even in a small way, to the ongoing challenges to ensure a more equitable society for those within the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender (LGBT) community and to encourage others, regardless of their own sexual orientation, that prejudice, discrimination and hate crime against the LGBT community has no place in society.”
He added: “As an ex-footballer, I find it hugely disappointing that there has not been progress in my former field around the issue of homophobia.
“While efforts of late may illustrate a greater resolve to address the issue of anti-gay abuse within football environs, I cannot help but conclude such endeavours have a futility and are disingenuous if they do not co-exist with a determination to create the conditions in the daily lives of players, which would allow players to volunteer into the public domain, if they so desired, an acknowledgement that they are gay or bisexual.
“Throughout the last 20 years, football clubs have co-operated with such worthwhile bodies as Kick it out and Show Racism the Red Card, to combat the social cancer and scourge of racism.
“They deserve a great deal of credit for adhering to social responsibility.”
He believes the game could take the lead on tackling the problem in society – but not until players feel comfortable being open about their sexuality.
“I do believe the emergence of openly gay or bi-sexual players can, if managed in an appropriate fashion, be advantageous in terms of challenging homophobia in wider society.
“I look forward to the day when a footballer being gay is, inevitably, headline news.
“I do, however, long for the time when a footballer being gay is not news at all.”
“Prejudice and discrimination is, in the main, started by the intolerance of the minority.
“It is, however, sustained by the indifference of the majority.”
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