This weekend, football supports Rainbow Laces, the Stonewall campaign to increase inclusivity for the LGBTQ+ community in sport, and we would like to extend a warm welcome to Jahmal Howlett-Mundle this afternoon.
Footballer Jahmal, who now plays for Ramsgate in the Isthmian League, hit the headlines for the right reasons when, in July 2021, he came out as bisexual. It was a brave move that drew support from his then teammates at Sheppey United and from figures within the sport.
Unfortunately, less than a fortnight later, the headlines were very different. Jahmal was subjected to homophobic abuse by a Tower Hamlets player, who was later charged.
“Being part of the Rainbow Laces campaign here shows how much progress I have made during my journey” says Jahmal. “A year and a half ago, I wouldn’t have imagined I would have the opportunity to support such an amazing campaign at a beautiful stadium like the Emirates.
Jahmal came through the youth system at Crystal Palace so has actually faced the Gunners in the past. “Arsenal were one of the toughest teams to play against. They were always very organised even at a young age.
“Campaigns such as Rainbow Laces are extremely important throughout the footballing pyramid,” he adds. “This year’s theme is ‘Inclusion has no off-season’, and rightly so. Support for the LGBT+ community should be a year-round thing and Stonewall are doing an excellent job in making that the case.”
He recently joined the newly launched LGBTQ+ Professionals in Football Collective. “The discussions we have are always thought-provoking and inspiring,” he says. “When anybody does something positive we are all there to congratulate each other, and when somebody has unfortunately had a negative experience we will let them know that they are loved and appreciated.”
Finally, Jahmal has some advice for anyone who may be going through what he went through in his younger days: “Take your time in understanding what being your authentic self means to you. I’ve found that speaking openly with those that are closest to me has given me the freedom to branch out and be more expressive in other areas of my life, but it has not been an overnight increase in confidence, so be patient."
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