FILMMAKER Dustin Lance Black, fiancé of Olympic diver Tom Daley, has called for more gay athletes to come out publicly.
The Oscar-winning screenwriter of Milk said many LGBTI young people were “afraid” to play sport because of a lack of openly gay players.
Black acknowledged that not all gay sportspeople can safely come out, but praised public figures coming out as “saving lives”.
“It’s incredibly brave to come out. I understand that for some people it’s difficult,” he said.
“To those who do come out and make that brave act, you’re saving lives. They truly are.
“There are a lot more gay kids out there who love football and want to play football and could be stars in football, but they’re afraid.
“They’re afraid they’ll be judged and they’re afraid they’ll bring shame to themselves or their family.
“I urge more sportsmen, actors, people in the public eye to come out and dispel those myths, those lies and that shame.”
Black, whose new television series When We Rise dramatises the history of the LGBTI rights movement, said more progress is needed for equality worldwide.
“We have more progress to be made in the United States, and certainly in places like Uganda, in Iran and even Australia, that’s fighting for marriage equality now,” he said.
“They need those symbols of hope.”