Sheppey United FC soccer player Jahmal Howlett-Mundle came out as bisexual to his teammates on Tuesday, and the heartwarming moment was captured in a video posted to Twitter by his football club.
"I’m bisexual," Howlett-Mundle is seen in the video telling his circle of teammates gathered on the pitch. They warmly received the news with a round of affirming applause.
Howlett-Mundle later wrote about the experience on Twitter and how being closeted had caused him emotional turmoil.
"I have been in many dressing rooms and not been able to fully express myself," Howlett-Mundle wrote of his time in the closet. "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 how hiding his sexuality caused him to "feel really really down for long periods" and drove him to hide further within himself. But he came to the realization that he was "so much happier" when he was his true self and made the decision he was "no longer going to let anything get in the way" of his happiness.
"I finally feel safe, secure, and a lot more at peace with myself, and I am now, and over the past few months, the happiest I have ever been," Howlett-Mundle continued. "I love football more than anything and I really could not go into another year without allowing myself to be happy by being true to myself."
Howlett-Mundle later issued a statement posted on the Sheffey United FC website saying that he was usually uncomfortable sharing such private details publicly, but felt that "it was the right time to be honest" both with himself and those close to him. He also expressed the hope that his coming out would "give others the confidence to follow suit" and embrace their sexuality rather than hiding in the closet.
"I always wished I had somebody that looked like me, that grew up where I grew up and played football to look up to when I was younger," Howlett-Mundle wrote.
Sheppey United FC assistant manager, Marcel Nimani, thanked Howlett-Mundle for his bravery and trust, and to let him know the team has his back.
"I thank Jahmal for the trust that he has put into our club and we as a club are fully supportive of Jahmal in what is an emotional time for him," Nimani said.