South Africa’s first openly gay football player, Phuti Lekoloane has opened up on the challenges he has faced since going public with his sexuality.
In an interview with Times Live, the 28-year-old football player who publicly came out in 2015 said he won’t advise any soccer player to come out because of the stereotypes attached to the LGBTQ+ community.
Phuti also recounted being rejected by a team in the national first division because of his sexual orientation.
He said: “I risked everything to live my truth, but I wouldn’t advise anyone to come out now because of the stereotype. There is a lot at stake. If you come out, you have a lot to lose. I have lost everything that I have dreamed of. I wanted to play in the (national first division), but if teams in this league discriminate against you because of your sexuality, then it’s another thing. You can’t go there if teams still don’t understand homosexuality, so that is how I got rejected. If I was in the closet, I think I would have made it”.
The goalkeeper who now plays for Makapanstad RFC in the ABC Motsepe League believes he is the sacrificial lamb even though there are others in football who are gay.
He further added: “My sexuality has robbed me of my career. Some people depend on football to put bread on the table. It’s always tricky, especially in football, but I would advise people to start living their truth and the more people that come out, the more we break the stereotype.
There are a lot of gay guys in the closet that are playing in the league and the funny part is that it’s not only players, but even the team managers are also (gay).
We do have bisexual team managers and coaches who are in the closet, so it’s always like that. I am the sacrificial lamb.”