'I stopped playing football because of homophobia': Leeds councillor praises Jake Daniels for coming out

A Leeds councillor who gave up football because of homophobic abuse has thanked Blackpool striker Jake Daniels for coming out as gay.

By David Spereall
Thursday, 21st July 2022, 10:48 am

Labour’s Jordan Bowden, who represents Leeds’ Roundhay ward, said Daniels’ announcement will have a “huge impact” on young LGBT people growing up and could help stop a repeat of his own awful experiences.

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17-year-old Daniels became Britain’s most high-profile footballer to come out this century when he publicly revealed his sexuality in May, receiving plaudits across the world for his bravery and maturity in the process.

Labour’s Jordan Bowden, who represents Leeds’ Roundhay ward, said Daniels’ announcement will have a “huge impact” on young LGBT people growing up and could help stop a repeat of his own awful experiences.

Councillor Bowden played the sport in his youth, but gave up after leaving school because of the taunting he received.

Now aged 31, he’s written to Daniels to express his gratitude for the impact his coming out will have on society.

Councillor Bowden, who is originally from Bolton, said: “I love football and I chose PE as a GCSE.

“But the homophobia I faced was really, really hard as a kid growing up.

“The impact of Jake Daniels coming out is a great indicator of how far things have come. It’s easy to forget he’s only 17.

“The thank you letter was also a thank you letter to Blackpool, because he felt safe enough in that environment to come out and tell the staff and the other players.”

Asked if the abuse he received as a teenager dissuaded him from playing football, Coun Bowden replied: “Yes it did.

“When I left secondary school I never went back into competitive sport for that reason.

“I thought it would probably get worse.

“I’m bisexual. At the time I felt different, but I didn’t know what different was. With these things a lot of LGBT people don’t realise it themselves before other people do.

“It was incredibly difficult. But Jake Daniels coming out will have a huge impact.”

Councillor Bowden, who until last year had spent nine years working in primary education, said he’d seen big progress in attitudes towards LGBT people since he was a pupil himself.

He added: “Jake Daniels helps that.

“It shows how far things have come that you can do that. He will be an absolute role model for people going through secondary school, who are going through changes and not understanding what’s happening to them.

“I think it’s absolutely amazing.”