Coronation Street actor Nathan Graham hopes his depiction of gay footballer James Bailey may help a Premier League star to come out.
Next week will see Nathan’s character, professional footballer James Bailey, accidentally outed on social media.
He fears that his career will be over if he comes out publicly and he is scared of the repercussions from fans and the press.
The storyline comes after a number of reports suggesting a player may be close to coming out as the first openly gay player in the Premier League.
Nathan, told the Mirror: “I think it’s had a positive reaction so far."
He continued: “Nobody wants to be the first of this new generation, I guess that’s how anyone would feel. It’s a real shame that people don’t feel that they can come out, because I feel like we've moved on.
“People are, I think, more accepting of everyone. Hopefully there is someone that’s a catalyst for more players to come out.”
Nathan sought advice for the role and the storyline from LGBT+ rugby league player Keegan Hirst to help make sure his depiction of his character was accurate and to ask about what it is like coming out as a professional sportsman.
The pair met at the show’s set and spent several hours talking together.
Nathan, 28, said: “It is important because it is clearly an issue as there is no one currently playing professional football who is openly gay.
“After talking to Keegan Hirst, I can see that in football, homophobia is not seen as being on the same level as racism so it is good to spark that conversation and then hopefully it will educate people that discrimination is discrimination no matter what it is; race, religion, sexuality.
He added: “If a sportsperson is gay, it doesn’t take away from their ability and with any type of discrimination, until people are educated then nothing will change.
"Keegan said if a fan says something negative it is hurtful to hear but he doesn’t let it affect him.
“If someone is going through this struggle, I hope they see themselves represented and they know that it is okay to own who you are.”
- Coronation Street continues on Monday, Wednesday and Friday on ITV.
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