“I believe I am Africa’s only (full time) soccer player who has come out as gay,” Phuti Lekoloane tells the BBC News Africa. Phuti Lekoloane is the goalkeeper for South African team, Tornado FC. He had initially come out as gay in December 2015 but it wasn’t until a July 2016 radio interview with Robert Marawa of Metro FM that it registered with the public.
Phuti Lekoloane was born in Moletjie, Polokwane, about 27 years ago, and raised in Tembisa, Lekoloane.
Although Phuti’s current club is affirming and supportive of his sexuality, he has encountered a sizable amount of discrimination in the past one of which is being rejected by many football teams in the past.
“I remember when we lost against Alexandra United, one defender noted that we lost because ‘they have a gay in the team’. I cried because it hurt me,” He said in his coming out radio interview in 2016.
Phuti still faces discrimination from opposition fans who calls him derogatory names.
“My message to all the players who are gay and are scared to come out is to first, celebrate and accept who they are before trying to please other people” he concludes his interview with the BBC. “I think we need to live our lives to the fullest and not be scared of what people think of us.”