Semi-pro footballer Jahmal Howlett-Mundle has opened up about coming out as bisexual to his teammates, saying he had put off telling people for fear of being judged.
Howlett-Mundle, a defender with Sheppey United Football Club, shared his identity with his teammates in a moving moment that was caught on video.
Nervously making his announcement, he acknowledged there is “sort of a stigma” in football but told his team he’s “still the same person”.
His heartfelt words were met with applause and support from his teammates and staff at the club.
The bisexual footballer told BBC Radio 1 ‘s Newsbeat that he expected “a bit of silence” and for some people to not be accepting of his sexuality. But, he said, the fact his teammates were supportive was a pleasant surprise.
“When I heard the applause and positive reaction, I was lost for words,” Howlett-Mundle recalled. “The fact everyone put their arm around me, I can’t explain how elated I felt.”
Howlett-Mundle, who is also a primary school teacher, admitted that he had been thinking about sharing that he is bisexual to his teammates for many years. He put it off “because of the judgement” that he thought he’d face from others.
He described how he began to feel “free” as soon as he started speaking to his teammates last month. Howlett-Mundle told Newsbeat: “With every work, I started to feel a lot more comfortable, I started to feel everyone was engaged and listening.”
Bisexual footballer felt like he wasn’t able to ‘fully express’ himself before coming out
In a post on Instagram, Howlett-Mundle described how anxious he had been in the years leading up to that moment. He said he had been in “many dressing rooms” across his football career but had “not been able to fully express myself” because he was afraid of how he might be perceived.
“I wanted to be myself and talk about my anxieties regarding the stigma of sexuality in football but felt I always had to hold back in conversations,” he wrote. “Over time, this has caused me to feel really really down for long periods and made me go deeper into my shell.”
Howlett-Mundle shared that he finally realised that he is “so much happier when I am being myself” so he was “no longer going to let anything get in the way of that”.