Jess Fishlock: Gay Wales & Seattle star urges greater respect

Jess Fishlock
Jess Fishlock made her full Wales debut against Switzerland in 2006
Euro 2017 qualifying: Norway v Wales
Venue: Aalesund Stadion, Aalesund Date: Friday, 23 October Kick-off: 16:50 BST
Coverage: Live on BBC Sport website.

Wales midfielder Jess Fishlock has spoken about the challenges she has faced as a high-profile gay athlete.

Fishlock is a former Wales captain and plays for Seattle Reign in the National Women's Soccer League in the USA.

The 28-year-old revealed she had suffered homophobic abuse on social media in the past and was keen to protect her private life.

"It's my life and it's a huge part of who I am," Fishlock told BBC Radio Wales Sport.

"I have a girlfriend who is exceptional and who I spend a lot of my time with.

"People can be cruel at times and what I don't want is for a crazy fan ending up abusing her for no apparent reason."

Fishlock, who will join Melbourne City on loan as player-coach during Seattle's off-season, said she was comfortable with her sexuality.

But the former Bristol Academy, AZ Alkmaar and Glasgow City player acknowledged prejudices existed.

Jess Fishlock

"We don't hide it and I certainly don't hide it. My family are fine and extremely supportive," Fishlock added.

"As much as we're fine, not everybody is fine with that situation and we're aware of that.

"But we're extremely respectful people and we will respect those who are close to us who are not, at this moment, OK with everything."

Former England women's captain Casey Stoney publicly revealed her sexuality for the first time in February 2014 and became the most high-profile active gay footballer in England.

Stoney, 33, said homosexuality was more accepted in the women's game than the men's game.

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Fishlock works closely with Athlete Ally, an American non-profit organisation focused on ending homophobia and transphobia in sports, and said preconceptions also existed in the women's game.

"There's a stereotype that everyone that plays a women's sport is gay, which is an obscene stereotype," Fishlock said.

"Athlete Ally is a great thing and I'm proud of being an ambassador for it because homophobia in all sports and all genders is a terrible thing.

"It really shouldn't be a reason why someone doesn't play a sport and it certainly shouldn't be a reason why someone gets abused for playing a sport."

Listen: Jess Fishlock talks to Steffan Garrero about her career and the challenges she has faced as a high-profile gay athlete.

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