“He immediately became a role model”: Footballer Jankto comes out as gay
Czech footballer Jakub Jankto has made major international headlines by becoming the highest profile player currently in the men’s game to come out as homosexual. The 27-year-old’s move has won support from the soccer community around the world.
With a 44-second video on social media, Jakub Jankto took a step few male professional footballers have ever taken. Speaking directly to camera, in English, he came out as gay:
“Like everybody else, I also want to live my life in freedom, without fears, without prejudice. Without violence, but with love. I am homosexual and I no longer want to hide myself.”
Jankto, who is 27, is contracted to Spanish club Getafe but is currently with Sparta Prague.
His coming out video has been watched on Twitter alone over 3.5 million times since being posted on Monday.
Since it was posted the midfielder, who has a child with a female ex-partner, has received messages of support from all corners of the global soccer community.
Jon Holmes is from the UK-based organisation Sports Media LGBT+.
“This is the first time that a senior men’s international footballer who’s active in the sport has come out publicly as gay or bisexual.
"And that in itself is a landmark moment for the sport.”
Czeslaw Walek of Pride Business Forum in Prague says the fact Jankto took this step while still at the top of his profession also deserves plaudits.
“Those who came often only came out after their active career, so of course it’s very important.
"And he immediately became a role model for many, not only in the Czech Republic, but also all over the world.
"For boys who are playing football and are maybe questioning their sexuality, they can see that they can play football and can be gay, for example.”
Jon Holmes says the situation in men’s football is in stark contrast to the women’s game, where there is a great deal of LGBT visibility.
Given those circumstances, he says Jankto’s move required a great deal of personal bravery.
“For him to step forward, and not only come out to friends and family and teammates, is essentially to help other people, to be a figurehead, to let others know that they’re not alone – that takes on a massive element of courage.
"We have to respect the immense sense of responsibility that he’s taken on.”
Czeslaw Walek, who also heads marriage equality group Jsme Fér/We Are Fair, says the footballer’s coming out could even have ramifications beyond sport in his native country.
“It will help many young people among LGBTIQ people.
"And I hope that it will even help politically, because we are still taking about marriage equality here.
"I think that politicians should start seeing that LGBTIQ people are everywhere in this country and they should treat us equally.”