GRAHAM Onions feels Steve Davies’ decision to ‘come out’ as a gay sportsman will do wonders for future generations who want to be honest about their sexuality.
Wicketkeeper Davies became the first England cricketer to openly admit he is gay earlier this month and Durham star Onions – who has started to bowl again in his rehabilitation from back surgery – is convinced he will not be seen any differently by his peers.
Although Davies gave a newspaper interview last week to publicly reveal his sexual orientation, his teammates had been told several weeks ago and Onions hopes his bravery will pave the way for others.
“I think it was quite positive really – we’ve see on Facebook and on Twitter and from all the people involved in the English cricket team the amount of support,” said Onions, who was speaking as part of a Show Racism The Red Card Initiative to combat homophobia in sport. “That’s so good because he would have possibly been dreading the day it would be out in the open and out in the press.
“Obviously, as cricketers in the changing room, I think we knew a little bit before it came out in the press and we all gave him an unbelievable amount of support and said ‘look you are the way you are and there’s absolutely nothing wrong with that’. We as players totally accepted it.
“It was just a case of how everybody else would accept it as well. But I think it’s been a really good, positive sign that people on twitter are trending to try and say this is great for English cricket, and great for gay people, that no matter who you are; black, white, gay or not they should be supported.”
Davies became the second high-profile British sportsman to admit he is gay following a similar admittance from Welsh rugby star Gareth Thomas last year.
Both men have received widespread support from within their sports, although nobody in football has followed their lead.
Some feel football still has a big problem with homophobia, even though the statistics – one in ten men in Britain are gay – suggest there is at least one homosexual in every squad, at every club in the country.
But Onions, who hopes to be fit for the start of Durham’s County Championship campaign on April 8, predicts it will not be too long before a footballer also breaks down the barriers of prejudice and ignorance.
He added: “I don’t see any reason why not and I think as football players, yes they might get paid a lot of money and play in front of a lot of people, but they’re just the same as everyone else and they need to be accepted for who they are and that’s regardless of their ethnicity or sexuality.
“I think the changing room would have to support him and say ‘look you’re doing the right thing’ if someone did come out and say that they were gay.
“Obviously, you spend a lot of time with the same people in cricket, you’ll spend 12 months of the year, basically, in the same changing rooms and a lot of time touring and in football it’s exactly the same.
“It’s important that players accept them for who they are, and I’m sure if someone did come out in the changing rooms then players would definitely accept them.”
Show Racism The Red Card are set to release a video in conjunction with the Northern Rock Foundation as an educational resource to combat homophobia in football and sport in general.
Ged Grebby, chief executive of Show Racism the Red Card, said: “Currently very few professional footballers have spoken out against homophobia, but we believe we can use our extensive contacts within the game to turn this around.
“The aim would be to replicate our very successful campaign against racism in society and produce a educational resource which is widely used and highly accessible.”
l DURHAM seamer Liam Plunkett is to fly home from the current England Lions tour of the West Indies with a left thigh strain.