Ex-footballer John Fashanu has opened up in an interview revealing that he stopped his brother, Justin Fashanu from coming out of the closet.
From pleading to threatening and even paying him £75,000 “hush money,” Fashanu said he did everything in his power to keep his sexuality a secret until he committed suicide in 1998.
“I gave him the money because I didn’t want the embarrassment for me or my family. Had he come out now, it would be a different ball game. There wouldn’t be an issue, but there was then. Things are different now. Now he’d be hailed a hero,” he said in a new interview with UK’s Mirror.
I’ll never forget when Justin first told me. He called me in the evening time and said to me: ‘I’m gay’. Then he said to me: ‘I’m planning to go to a newspaper’. I said to him: ‘Oh heavens forbid… oh my God. We don’t need that. You’re mad’. He promised when I gave him the money he would not go out and say that. Two days later… bang… headlines in a newspaper. I looked like a sucker. For me and my family it was like Hiroshima or Nagasaki on our lives. It knocked us dead, it was a total shock. People might not like it, but I was trying to protect my family. You’ve got to remember the public’s perception of homosexuality at that time was that it was an abomination . It was taboo. Street boys were beating up gays in nightclubs. I give him credit for having the courage to come out and say it. But it caused a lot of confusion and animosity towards him, me, and my family. During matches, 30, 40, sometimes 45,000 supporters sang at me: ‘You’re big… you’re black… your a*** is up for grabs… Fashanu… Fashanu’. As a result of him saying what he said, my mother died because of the stress. She actually died a year later on the day of his birthday. She was already old, very fragile and suffering cancer. Then to be told her second eldest son was a homosexual was too much. I’ve never spoken about these things before because I was stamped a homophobe. But things have changed and I make it very clear: I was wrong. It was ignorance on my behalf. I didn’t understand him. I was trying to protect my family and I was worried about the effect on my career. In the process I lost my brother and I am very sad about that. He committed suicide because he was so distraught the world would not accept a black man who was homosexual.
You can read up the rest of his interview here.