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The death of a footballer, equality, and medicine

BMJ 1998; 317 doi: (Published 18 July 1998) Cite this as: BMJ 1998;317:220
  1. Stephen Davies., specialist registrar in psychiatry,
  1. south Wales

    Doctors deal with death and inequality every day, yet attitudes persist within the medical profession that may contribute to both of these.

    The death of the football player, Justin Fashanu, was reported in an uncharacteristically dignified way. We were offered the portrait of a gifted striker whose career was ruined because he was gay, his life ending in sordid shame. We seem comfortable with the notion of homosexuality as a tragic, often fatal flaw, shared by a long list of admired figures including Oscar Wilde, Rock Hudson, Gianni Versace, and George Michael.

    Fashanu's obituaries should have given an account of a courageous man who fought to overcome many adversities–abandonment by his parents to the orphanage, racial prejudice, and homophobia. Rather than allow whispers about his sexuality, he “came out” in 1990, braving further rejection, by his younger brother, his team mates, his manager, and the press with speculation of scandals with MPs. Despite all of this he was determined to continue with football. He …

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