In 1990, Justin Fashanu was the first English footballer to come out publicly. Consequently, he faced slander and intimidation from crowds on game day. As such, gay footballers in England (what we in the States would call soccer players) have learned to keep their sexuality quiet. Of England’s 5,000 current male professional footballers, none are openly gay. Other players, such as Thomas Hitzlsperger, have waited until retirement to come out.
Aiming to combat the pressure that shames gay athletes and fans and forces them to remain quiet, director Rhys Chapman and writer Terence Corless are seeking funding for their short film Wonderkid, which focuses on a talented young footballer struggling with his identity and sexuality amidst friends and teammates who refuse to accept him for who he is. “At the heart of this project is the desire to change people’s minds about what is and what is not acceptable behaviour towards fellow human beings. It is about the basic human right for everyone to love and pursue a relationship, regardless of gender, race, creed or anything else,” the team writes in its Kickstarter proposal. “We want to challenge the way people think about homophobia, not only in football, but in their everyday lives.”
Already working with the anti-violence charity Galop, The Kevin Spacey Foundation, Ian McKellen, Moby, and others, the film has a fair deal of support. However, the team is now relying on Kickstarter for its final funding. With a goal of 25,000 pounds (approximately $40,420), the project will use any funds raised to pay for equipment, editing, distribution, and production. Potential risks include difficulties in arranging for actors, locations, production, editing, and distribution, but with proper funding, the team is confident that it can overcome these challenges.
Watch the McKellen-narrated Kickstarter pitch below: