‘Playing Straight’ examines homophobia in the world of football with interviews from Robbie Rogers, Gareth Thomas and Owen Gibson
In the next instalment in RTÉ 2’s Reality Bites documentary series, ‘Playing Straight’, gay presenter Stephen Byrne explores homophobia amongst football players and fans and the lack of publicly out football players.
The show airs tonight at 9:30pm on RTÉ 2, and will be available to watch on RTÉ Player after it airs.
Those who contributed to the programme discuss incidents of homophobic abuse from fans, mental health issues that arise for sports stars from being in the closet, the suicide of the first footballer to come out, the internal culture of football and more.
Contributors include ex Welsh and British Lions captain Gareth Thomas, Robbie Rogers who currently plays for LA Galaxy in the states, a Brighton fan who recorded vicious homophobic abuse at a Brighton-Derby match, Crystal Palace manager Alan Pardew, Justin Fashanu’s niece Amal, chief sports editor at the Guardian Owen Gibson and Di Cunningham, the head of the LGBT football supporters umbrella group.
Chelsea Handler interviewed Robbie Rogers earlier this year about the athletes who remain closeted.
“As somebody who came out as a gay athlete does it frustrate you how many people are professional athletes that are closeted,” asked Chelsea.
“Uh yeah I mean it frustrates me,” Rogers replied.
“I mean after I initially came out I was like ‘OK more people will come out’ and um it’s just kind of becoming the norm and there was so much energy and positivity behind it and now it’s been four years my fourth season and there’s not another gay soccer player in the US.”
Also featured in the programme are fans from grounds across the UK who discuss their own experiences of homophobia at football, as well as their knowledge of it across the field.
This is the second week in a row that RTÉ 2’s Reality Bites series explores issues concerning the LGBT community.
The programme examined the experiences of LGBT people living in rural Ireland, from coming out to their families to campaigning for marriage equality, resonating with people across the nation.
“So emotional watching #TheOnlyGayInTheVillage Fantastic show!,” one woman tweeted after the show aired.
Playing Straight: Reality Bites will air on RTÉ 2 at 9:30pm on Wednesday 16 November 2016.