CELEBRATING JUSTIN FASHANU
We are raising money to create a statue of Justin Fashanu on the approach to Norwich’s Carrow Road ground
THE FIRST PRO FOOTBALLER TO COME OUT AS GAY
In a time of intense discrimination and violence towards the LBGTQ+ community around the world, it is crucial, now more than ever, to highlight resilience, strength, and courage. By erecting a statue in honor of Justin Fashanu, the first out gay footballer in the professional game, we are doing just that – shining a light on an individual who shattered the glass ceiling in football, the effects of which we are still feeling today.
But We Need Your Support
We are raising funds to pay for Justin's sculpture, garden, and related costs to ensure that this memorial is beautifully crafted to represent the beacon of hope and progress that Justin was in life.
Justin’s statue will send a message to all athletes, whoever you are or love...
PLAY THE GAME YOU LOVE AND WE WILL LOVE YOU AS YOU PLAY THE GAME.
Justin Fashanu was an enigma.
A message from Stephen Fry
Fast on his feet but strong in the challenge. A black child growing up in rural Norfolk. Introspective, yet the life of the party. A gay man with an evangelical Christian faith. The first £1million pound black footballer he dazzled for Norwich and England as a young man. When he scored ‘the goal of the season’ against Liverpool in 1980 he bowed his head and raised a single finger – capturing the moment and the man.
The power of visible role-models is well known. When a gay kid sees Stephen Fry, or Ian McKellen or Clare Balding on TV, they begin to see the possibility of their dreams and aspirations being achievable. Celebrity brings legitimacy and having legitimate gay role-models breeds validation of a community and person.
Outside of football, LGBTQ sports stars have flourished in Britain over the last decade – breaking barriers and providing powerful role models for a new generation seeking a space to be themselves.
But invisibility is even more powerful than visibility.
When the gay or bisexual kid sees nobody like them in the ranks of professional footballers how can they ever picture themselves fulfilling their dream? Young footballers learn early to hide or give up. Homophobic ‘banter’ in the dressing room, vicious chants on the terraces, and coaches telling them to lay low and not bring attention to their sexuality.
If footballers reflected all 16-35 year-old men in Britain we would see at least 167 out gay or bisexual players in the four professional leagues of England and Wales. That’s two same-sex loving men in every side. We would have 36 in the premiership alone.
Where are those hundreds of footballers?
But his career fizzled as injuries and homophobia took their toll on his body and mind. He took his own life in 1998.
Norwich City fans recognize that Justin’s legacy is more than just as a star footballer. He courageously broke a ceiling that was repaired and remains unbroken. The fact, that it took another 32 years before Jake Daniels became the second footballer to come out, is testament to the fear and stigma that gay and bisexual footballers still endure today.
Our artist, Taslim Martin, is one of the leading sculptors in Britain.
He teaches at the Camberwell College of Arts and has delivered a broad range of public art commissions.
Taslim has exhibited in the UK and internationally and his works are in permanent collection of the British Museum and the Horniman Museum.
“Justin’s statue is about much more than football: there is a bigger question of who we accept, celebrate and respect as a nation. Of the 2,600 public statues in Britain on Art UK’s database not a single one is of a gay black man. Justin’s statue will be the first. I am honoured to be creating this statue, which we hope will play an important role in opening up the game to LGBTQ+ representation.”
Justin’s statue will greet fans as they approach Norwich’s Carrow Road ground. Situated on the banks of the River Wensum, a communal garden will provide space for all to enjoy the beauty of the man and the town. We see Justin’s statue as more than a celebration of the man. Justin’s statue says to every player, regardless of skin colour or sexual orientation, play the game you love and we will love you as you play the game.
“This statue will be an incredible tribute to Justin and his legacy. We hope it stands as a reminder and a beacon of hope to all who are fighting the struggles of diversity in not only football, but all areas of life.
We are all thrilled at the Justin Fashanu Foundation that there will now be place that fans of Justin, along with people who have been inspired by his story, are able to go. We cannot think of a more fitting place than Norwich City as it was his favourite place during his career.”