The story of Ouissem Belgacem
21 May 2021
Ouissem Belgacem was a talented football player who played for FC Toulouse from the age of 13 until 18 years old. He describes himself as French, Arab, Muslim and homosexual.
Given the strong prejudices and hostile attitudes against gays in football (‘the last bastion of homophobia’ in Belgacem’s words), he initially tried to fit in and behave as a heterosexual. However, this made him feel internally conflicted and unhappy, and, as a result, Belgacem decided to give up his dream to be a professional footballer at a young age. As he did not feel comfortable portraying to be someone else. He did not feel comfortable portraying the real him.
He has since gone public, trying to change the culture and helping to ensure that homosexual people no longer feel excluded in the world of football. His recent book “Adieu ma honte” (“Goodbye to my shame”) describes his coming out and the experiences he was subjected to as a teenager at his club. Belgacem notes that much progress has already been made against racism in football thanks to concrete actions undertaken and that it is now time to show an equal level of fighting spirit against homophobia in football.