By Cara Dudgeon

11th March 2020

Nathan Graham hopes his Coronation Street storyline can help LGBT footballers come out

Image Source/ RTE

The 28-year-old actor’s sporty alter ego, James Bailey, recently came out to his family and is set to be questioned by his club over gossip surrounding his sexual orientation so he hopes the plot will give other young people in his character’s position the confidence to feel they can be open about their sexuality.

He told BBC Newsbeat:

‘I think as long as it helps somebody that might be going through the struggle of telling their family or if they are a young footballer who watches the show.

‘They might see it and think ‘”Okay, you know, I can do this. Maybe I could be the first player to come out in this era”.’

There are currently no out gay players in UK football but to prepare for the storyline, Nathan met with rugby league player Keegan Hirst – who came out in 2015 – and learned how it’s still a “big issue” in professional sport.

He said:

‘I’ve learned it’s still a big issue.

‘If it wasn’t an issue, then I’d like to think there would be some openly gay footballers out there in the world right now.

‘The story team and the writers, they’ve got nothing to go from in that sense, because this situation hasn’t happened – at least for 30 years’.

Justin Fashanu was the first footballer in the UK to come out as gay in 1990 but he tragically took his own life in 1998.

While Nathan thinks there world has “moved on” since then, he still thinks there’s a “stigma” in football.

He reflected:

‘That was a completely different era and time and everything was so different.

‘The world has moved on quite a lot in since then, but it still hasn’t moved on enough in this area, with the stigma.

‘It would have been really nice to have someone to talk to get the essence and authenticity’.

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