Interview
Anton Hysen
Anton is a Swedish footballer who currently plays for Utsiktens BK. The son of former Liverpool player Glenn Hysén, Anton openly declared his homosexuality earlier this year, thus becoming the only current openly gay professional player. Here, he talks to the Justin Campaign about his decision to come out and the huge media coverage which followed.

Photo by Magnus Klackenstam ©

There has been a huge amount of media interest in your story since you publicly came out. Did you expect such a media frenzy?

I’m really surprised that it is has been this huge. Ive known for a couple of years that I’m gay and so have my family and friends so I just didn’t think it would be this big. But, overall, I really don’t care. I’ve no regrets. I see it as a small thing in my life but obviously everyone else has made it much bigger. Maybe in one or two years they’ll forget about me.

Have the media been completely positive in their coverage of you and your decision to come out?

Yes, they’ve been really positive. However, I wouldn’t really care if somebody was negative about it. I have seen and heard negative stuff but obviously everybody can’t love you.. Overall, I’m just taking in the positive stuff.

Inevitably, since you’re the only current openly gay professional footballer (and the first since Justin Fashanu), you have become a very important figure for those fighting for gay rights in sports. Are you comfortable with this new role model status?

I personally don’t see myself as a role model but everybody else says that I am! Although, personally I think it’s a good thing that I’ve apparently become this role model but it’s such a small thing for me. I’m just being honest to everybody about who I am but I’ll do everything I can to help make this world a better place.

What prompted you to publicly state your sexuality?

We have always talked about my sexuality in our family and nobody cares. It was such old news. But then, my dad was talking about me to journalists and he mentioned, in passing, that I’m gay. The journalists were immediately interested, particularly as I also played football, so they asked to talk to me in a magazine called Offside. I understood it was interesting for them so I did it and it has turned out pretty big.

Prior to coming out, had you witnessed much homophobia within Swedish football?

People sometimes make jokes about it but I’ve always ignored it. To be honest, there are always going to be people who think differently about you and you have to just ignore stuff people say. However, when making those kind of jokes, you shouldn’t go over the line. Then again, you know how football is, they’ll say anything to psyche you out. But if you are a good footballer, then your sexuality shouldn’t matter.

How have your team-mates reacted to you coming out?

They’ve been very positive. No-one has really cared. All they care about is winning the league so nothing has changed.

Has having your father, former Liverpool star Glenn Hysén, as your boss at Utsiktens BK made it easier for you to come out to your teammates. If he wasn’t involved with the club, maybe the other players would feel more able to express their disapproval of your decision (if they felt that way).

It wouldn’t be any different. I’m there to play football and all the other players just come to the club to play football, so nothing else matters.

How have the crowds at your matches been since you came out? Have you heard much abuse?

We don’t have very big crowds I the Swedish Fourth Division, but there have been occasions when people in the crowd make jokes or whistle at me, but I just laugh at it all and keep playing. It’s funny. And overall, I couldn’t be more happy!

Were you aware of Justin Fashanu’s story?

I didn’t really know about it before I came out but it’s a tragic story. It’s horrible to hear that he suffered so much.

Did you think your high-profile status will help or hinder your footballing career?

That’s something I really don’t care about. If football clubs don’t want me because I’m gay, then that’s their problem, I’m playing because I love football and if they see that I’m good then that’s all they’ll care about. I’ll just play as long as I can and go on not caring what people think.

Lots of Scandinavian players make the journey across the North Sea to ply their trade in the UK. Would you like to follow in your father’s footsteps and eventually play in the Premier League?

I would love to do that. I had a trial with Doncaster Rovers when I was 18 and it was interesting to see how teams operated in the UK. At the moment, I have a lot to do to get there but one day, it would be great.

Your father played for Liverpool and you are a keen fan of the Reds. What is your take on the current situation at Anfield?

I think its great that Kenny Dalglish signed a new three-year contract. He’s done a lot for Liverpool since he’s come back and I think, in the long-term, he’ll succeed there. Also, the players that have come to Anfield under Dalglish, from Carroll and Suarez to Henderson and Adam, are amazing.


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