British Footballer Joey Barton Speaks Out Against Homophobia, Reveals Uncle is Gay


Premier League footballer Joey Barton of the Queens Park Rangers is speaking out about homophobia in football in a documentary airing on BBC Three in the UK, British tabloid The Sun reports.

Barton says the subject is important to him because his uncle is gay

"It's a subject quite close to my heart because my dad's youngest brother, the youngest of my uncles, is gay. And I didn't know for a long, long time. He thought because of the society that we were brought up in, which was quite working class, that it would be frowned upon or that we would disown him. So for a lot of years he was in turmoil and was resenting himself for the fact he had these feelings. I was like, 'I love you for you — not for the fact that you are straight or bisexual or all different manner of things. I love you because you're you.'"

BartonBarton also condemns "archaic figures" in sports who ignore homophobia in the game and cause discrimination by their silence:

"There is no doubt in my mind that in the next ten years we have an openly gay footballer. My only fear is that certain managers and individuals within the game will discriminate against people. These archaic figures think if they had a gay footballer, they would have all kinds of shenanigans going on in the dressing room. That's not the case. As I say it's more fool them and their lack of social awareness and intelligence. I pity them a little bit that they don't have enough about them — enough self-confidence or enough self-worth — to be able to say, 'Know what? This is a relevant subject and this is my opinion on it'. And I think it's important that the legacy this generation of players leaves is a generation of players that help not only change the game for the better and change the teams they played in, but also change the culture and the society of the football clubs they played at."


  1. Steerpike says

    Americans should realize that they were still making ‘ooh ooh’ monkey noises at black players in some stadiums until a few years ago, and the chants in soccer are still BRUTALLY NASTY. They used to chant ‘We hope your baby dies of cancer!’ at David Beckham when he was younger. And you all know about the hooliganism. As Orwell famously said “Serious sport has nothing to do with fair play. It is bound up with hatred, jealousy, boastfulness, disregard of all rules and sadistic pleasure in witnessing violence. In other words, it is war minus the shooting.”

    That’s why men don’t want it to be nice and inclusive and polite. It only has value to them BECAUSE it’s nasty.

  2. Henry says

    Joey is a ‘bad lad’ over here. He’s broken the leg of a bystander whilst driving through a city at 2am, on another occasion he was arrested (and subsequently cleared) of criminal damage.

    I think in this case, a ‘bad lad’ coming out in his positive views of us gays is a good thing.

  3. Robert in NYC says

    Just beautifully said. We need more of it in all sport on both sides of the pond. It can only get better as more players show some courage in doing what this man did.

  4. LuckyLinden says

    @Henry, that’s interesting to know. One of our loudest and fiercest straight allies/marriage equality advocates from the world professional sports players, is Sean Avery, a hockey player who is also known for being a thug on the ice (and I mean a serious thug). I wonder if the same thing that makes them say “eff you” to the rules and what people think also erases that filter that makes them worry about whether what they are saying supporting gay rights will be reveived poorly or hurt their reputation/career. Given how surprisingly articulate both men are on the subject–and how they seem to have little patience for those who agree but stay silent–I wonder if there is a bit of a correlation. These guys can’t behave if they wanted to. Not endorsing it (you can be an advocate as several NFL players are without being a thug) but wondering if there is a connection.

  5. Henry says

    @LuckyLinden you should read his Twitter. He is a real ‘thug thinker’ if there is such a term. He is surprisingly thoughtful, but on the other hand often behaves like the rest of them. Interesting indeed, but given who he is, and his huge popularity in the UK, he is indeed a very powerful ally. A search on his name shows all the stories of his gay uncle, and his opinions on the matter before any of the sports related news.

  6. Chris says

    This is the same man who while on the pitch last season called Fernando Torres a “poof” and then grabbed his crotch and suggested what he could do with it.
    So, let’s not have any illusions about just how evolved or brave Joey Barton is. He still falls into the same homophobic “banter” that all the lads indulge in. (although he does love Morrissey above all so obviously there are issues there…)

  7. Henry Holland says

    “Americans should realize that they were still making ‘ooh ooh’ monkey noises at black players in some stadiums until a few years ago”

    It still happens, a guy in Liverpool is probably going to get busted for it because the CCTV at Anfield caught him doing it during the FA Cup match with Manchester United this past weekend.

    “and the chants in soccer are still BRUTALLY NASTY”

    And the fans at a Michigan v. Ohio State football game or a Yankees v. Red Sox game are all peace and love. It’s not unique to English football, it’s just that there’s no real tradition of chanting at American sporting events anything more complicated than “Beat LA!” or “Yankees suck! Yankees suck!” so we don’t notice it here.

    “And you all know about the hooliganism”

    Right, those were soccer hooligans in Vancouver last year……

    “That’s why men don’t want it to be nice and inclusive and polite. It only has value to them BECAUSE it’s nasty”

    First off, Orwell/Eric Blair was an upper-middle class homophobe, don’t really care what he thinks about sports, apart from the fact that his point wasn’t even original in the 1800’s, let alone when he wrote it.

    “That’s why men don’t want it to be nice and inclusive and polite. It only has value to them BECAUSE it’s nasty”

    Oh rubbish, total nonsense. Sports fandom is complex and the vast majority of people I meet at baseball/football/hockey/basketball matches are not nasty or ready to riot or beat up homeless people.

    I watched the Djokovic v. Nadal final from Sydney yesterday and it was amazing, just great drama provided by two great players. I didn’t watch for close to 6 hours because they were nasty, I watched because two guys in incredible shape played a difficult sport at the highest level.

    I just laugh when people on gay blogs get all over sports fan for their tribalism but damned if I don’t read at least one “Madonna!” “No, Gaga!” “No, Christina/Mariah/Whitney” pissing match a day.

    Plus are swimming fans nasty? Golf fans? Beach volleyball fans? Enough with the stereotyping.

  8. SteveDenver says

    It is heartwarming that Barton is proud of his uncle and loves him.

    For Barton and other athletes who are spearheading the practice of not dodging issues concerning homosexuality, but speaking directly to the subject, BRAVO! You are modern heroes, and your efforts and personal fortitude are greatly appreciated.

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