Justin Fashanu

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When English football player Justin Fashanu came out to the public in 1990, it was to a bombardment of harassment and homophobia from all sides, his own coach and fans of the opposition alike. The first headline referred to him as the “£1m Football Star,” a reference to how he had become the first black footballer to be paid such a transfer fee (for good reason, given the brilliant plays in his early career). In his interviews he hinted at affairs with various politicians and public figures which he later admitted were false; in 1994, his contract with Heart of Midlothian was terminated due to his “unprofessional conduct” with the press.

Fashanu committed suicide in 1998 after an allegation in Maryland (where sodomy was then illegal) that he had had nonconsensual sex with a minor. He had denied the charges but fled the country, which he claimed in his suicide note was because he did not believe he would be given a fair trial. The Justin Campaign was founded in his honor to raise awareness of homophobia in football.

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