The world of football has come together to support Blackpool’s Jake Daniels, who publicly came out as gay earlier this week.
The 17-year-old has an army of fellow professionals, fans, and other celebrities lauding his bravery through an outpouring of positive comments on social media.
Daniels is the first professional male footballer in the UK to come out since Justin Fashanu in 1990, and the support behind him is astronomical.
Prominent figures in the men’s game including Gary Lineker and Harry Kane have applauded the teenager after he made the announcement on Monday, with the help of Blackpool, Sky Sports, and LGBTQ+ charity Stonewall.
Daniels has also received huge support from the women’s football community — a place known for its active encouragement of equality in sexuality and gender identity.
One figure who praised Daniels was Chelsea and Denmark star Pernille Harder, who described the Blackpool ace as “brave and brilliant” in a recent tweet.
“Coming out today will be freeing and liberating for you and for football fans around the world who will be inspired to open [up] about their identity too. Huge respect. Wishing you all the very best!”
Jake, you are brave and brilliant. Coming out today will be freeing and liberating for you and for football fans around the world who will be inspired to open about their identity too. Huge respect. Wishing you all the very best! ❤️ https://t.co/hgNEup81M7— Pernille Harder (@PernilleMHarder) May 16, 2022
Daniels came out to his family the day before Blackpool played Accrington in an Under-18s fixture in January. During the match, he scored four goals.
In his own words, Daniels said he “needn’t have worried” about the reaction he was going to get from his family and friends.
Harder’s teammate and partner, Magdalena Eriksson, echoed the sentiment and highlighted how being your true self can do wonders for every aspect of your life.
“Coming out takes strength and bravery and doing so in the public arena isn’t easy,” the Chelsea skipper wrote. “The fact that Jake scored four goals after coming out to his family shows perfectly how liberating it is to be your true self.”
Coming out takes strength and bravery and doing so in the public arena isn't easy. The fact that Jake scored four goals after coming out to his family shows perfectly how liberating it is to be your true self. Congratulations @Jake_Daniels11. Feeling so happy for you today 🏳️🌈🏳️⚧️ https://t.co/KmCTgZIhOW— Magdalena Eriksson (@MagdaEricsson) May 16, 2022
The two Chelsea stars have been active voices for the LGBTQ+ community for several years now. During the 2019 World Cup, a famous photo propelled the couple into the spotlight, and they have discussed their platforms as role models for other queer individuals.
The photo showed a celebratory kiss shared between the two women after Eriksson helped Sweden reach the quarter-finals of the tournament.
UEFA Women's Player of the Year @PernilleMHarder and partner Magdalena Eriksson made headlines for this kiss in 2019.— UEFA (@UEFA) December 30, 2020
🎬 In 𝗢𝗨𝗧𝗥𝗔𝗚𝗘𝗗, Harder and other top stars discuss the homophobic, sexist and racist abuse they have suffered, and why it has to stop.#EqualGame
The pair discussed the impact of the image, which saw them both gain 20,000 new followers on social media.
“A lot of people were looking at us and were happy to be able to see that people can be open,” Eriksson said. “If you’re two girls in love, or a girl and boy, or two boys, it doesn’t matter — that’s the message we wanted to share.
“It was a complete coincidence the picture was taken but it ended up becoming a really beautiful thing.”
Joining the Chelsea duo in praising Daniels were other Women’s Super League stars. Wales international Natasha Harding said the forward’s “bravery and courage will give so many people hope” and stressed that he has “so much love and support” behind him.
You have so much love and support behind you already ❤️.— Tash Harding (@tashharding09) May 16, 2022
Your bravery and courage will give so many people hope, to hopefully come out and be themselves one day ❤️.
We all salute you Jake. #FootballisForEveryone https://t.co/RhbEacvtgx
“The biggest respect to this young man for having the courage to just be himself,” former Arsenal and Chelsea icon Anita Asante said.
“Can’t wait for the day where people can openly be themselves but until that day comes people like Jake will I am sure help so many.”
The biggest respect to this young man for having the courage to just be himself! Can’t wait for the day where people can openly be themselves but until that day comes people like Jake will I am sure help so many. https://t.co/i2sUZJ1KcZ— Anita Asante (@NicenNeetz) May 16, 2022
At such a young age, Daniels has marked a huge milestone for LGBTQ+ individuals in men’s football and hopefully this can be the start of creating a more welcoming and accepting environment.