Note: The translation in English is in this post. The German original (in full) can be found AT THIS LINK which directs to the magazine.
Interview translated in full by jenny_jenkins and sashatwen
THE MAN WHO DOESN'T ACTUALLY EXIST: A CONVERSATION WITH A GAY BUNDESLIGA FOOTBALLER
We’ve spoken for a long time but it was unclear until recently if we would ever meet. I enter the room and find a visibly overwhelmed young man who would obviously love to run away in the next moment. He stays. No one is allowed to know about this meeting, because it never happened. In spite of his huge misgivings he speaks for the first time about his sexuality, one that has no place in the world of football.
You’ve just come out of an interview with a public service broadcaster. What would happen if homosexuality came up?
I’d lie, that’s obvious. I’d try to keep that subject entirely out of the public sphere. The more it would be discussed, the greater the pressure on me. I can’t afford to have this great big discussion revolve around me.
Isn’t the pressure already immense?
Of course. The price for living my dream in the Bundesliga is very high. I have to put on an act and deny my true self. At first it was a huge game and no problem, but as time passes it has taken its toll on me. I’m not sure I can stand the strain that comes with being a model heterosexual player and me potentially being found out until the end of my career.
Fear of Publicity
What would be so awful if it came out? No one in show business cares when Hape Kerkeling moderates a television show.
I think that football and the media are completely different. Of course I find it stupid, but there’s a cliché about “typical gay” people that fits into the bright world of television. Footballers, on the other hand, are the living breathing stereotype of masculinity. They have to love sport, fight aggressively, and be great big role models all at once. Gays simply aren’t all that. Period. Or is someone supposed to get up there and educate a raging mob of fans before the game with the message that “the queers” are really just ordinary guys and that they’ll be playing too? It’s unimaginable. In a situation like that one, in the stadium, or after the game, the slightest provocation will be blown out of proportion. I would not be safe if my sexuality was out in the open.
Are you angry at the fans?
No, absolutely not. I heard once that in heated moments people are ruled by their hard-wiring, and that tolerance isn’t built into that. I have to accept that in the stadium, and the fans are an essential part of the force that drives me every match-day. In general, heterosexuals don’t reflect on their sexuality. They would never hit upon the idea to question themselves for years as to whether their own feelings were genuine. After all, it's the way it's supposed to be. From this position I have to hope for tolerance, because understanding will never happen. This is too personal a subject and we gays are not much better when it comes to heterosexuals or lesbians. But we're certainly tolerant. But even if I were to cope with the fans, the overwhelming publicity would be awful.
Why is there fear of this publicity?
The stories, the headlines and the magazines. Everyone would love to know about the wicked things my partner and I get up to beneath the sheets. Does the super-man footballer lie on top or on the bottom? I can think of a few! My passion – football - would be irrelevant. Either I could stroll to an event with my boyfriend and then I’d be in the media for three weeks, or I insist on my privacy and couldn’t be true to myself. There is simply no solution. It’s unimaginable that I could, like a heterosexual player, show up with a new partner and then be forgotten the next day. Normality doesn’t exist. At least, it wouldn’t be normal for me to allow the entire country to discuss my intimate life. That only concerns me and the person who is at my side.
And is there “a person at your side” – someone about whom one could ask one of these hated questions?
Today and now I find this question actually very important. I have no one and neither do the other well known players that I know of. Although: I was once in a relationship. But you can imagine that a month long game of hide-and-seek is poisonous to any partnership. I had to make a decision. Sure, it was nice to be successful in football after that. It was priced accordingly.
Instead of a boyfriend is there a hired WAG for important occasions?
That cliché is unfortunately true. There are events I can’t go to alone and needs must. That the way everyone does it. Only I never had to pay because after all, a genuine gay guy like me has his best girlfriends.
You spoke just now of other players. Is there a sort of “association of gay Bundesliga players” and does the rest of the team know about your homosexuality?
(laughs) No, there’s no association. Quite the contrary. I know of other players in the Liga. Actual meetings never occur though – it would be too obvious. It’s a strange parallel existence that continues into the team. It’s rarely spoken of, but everyone must be aware.
Professional Wishes, Private Dreams
So aren't there any problems within the team?
Absolutely not. I don’t know a single player in the whole of the league that has a problem with it. There are some who pose questions with great interest – but that's an absolute exception. Of course some situations, like showering, are initially uncomfortable for both sides. I have no interest in my fellow players however and eventually both sides cease to care. Also my colleagues are not ignorant, in spite of their reputations.
And what do these colleagues ask?
Oh, quite technical things (laughs). But they usually ask about the boyfriend. I know the love-lives of my teammates from the newspapers. With me they have to ask. It’s all quite normal.
Was coming out of the closet after the friendly encouragement of the head of the DFB, Theo Zwanziger, no option?
Not really. It’s so easy to say, if you didn’t have to go into the stadium on the next game-day. Perhaps it would be easier to get over if more players were to out themselves, but at the moment I see little hope of that. Finally, it would only be a minority, which would make it easy to quibble about it.
Why did you decide to do this interview?
It’s important, to take the first step. I’m in the process of giving myself a trial run. In addition you can understand my situation and that makes it easier to talk about. Others don’t wish to take that step, in spite of the anonymity. Perhaps my colleagues don’t feel encouraged. But I hope they will. We can talk again in a year and then perhaps I can talk under my own name.
What does your future look like?
To continue developing in football. Finally I have a few desires that I want to fulfil. My personal situation won’t change. Of course it would make me very happy if there was a sudden avalanche of outings and I could gaze in astonishment at all the guys I hadn't known about. A bit of normality would make me happy. Just to go openly with a potential partner to a restaurant. That’s a dream.
Once again: The German original (in full) can be found AT THIS LINK which directs to the magazine.