Updated: Jul 3
After speculating for years, fans of Ted Lasso were finally given confirmation that three supporting characters identify as LGBTQ+. And although my dream of Ted and Trent never came to be, the show did portray groundbreaking representation in the characters Trent, Colin, and Keeley, (portrayed by James Lance, Billy Harris, and Juno Temple, respectively).
Ted Lasso AppleTv+ Original
It may not seem impressive, but according to the website SportingNews, “Blackpool FC star Jake Daniels has taken the inspirational step of becoming the first male English professional footballer to publicly come out as gay in over two decades.” Daniels is currently the only out player in UK’s Premier League, but he is likely not the only one. PinkNews cites prevalent homophobia and advice to stay in the closet as common reasons players refrain from coming out. One manager even went as far as to tell a player, “‘I think it’s best for you not to come out until we get you a transfer or into a different club.’”
The image shown is Justin Fashanu, the first openly gay English football player. He came out in 1990, only to take his own life in 1998. Fashanu was posthumously inducted into the National Football Museum’s Hall of Fame in 2020.
(Photo Sky Sports. "Justin Fashanu: Britain's first out gay footballer to be inducted into Hall of Fame." Sky Sports. n.d. Web. 23 Jun. 2023.)
Pictured here is Jake Daniels, the only currently out member of the UK’s Premier League.
(Patti Sunio. "Meet Jake Daniels, the first English pro footballer to come out as gay in 32 years." South China Morning Post. 27 May 2022. Web. 23 Jun. 2023.)
Although the show doesn’t dive too deeply into the ingrained homophobia in the sport, Ted Lasso’s Colin Hughs portrays the difficult and impactful decision of coming out in professional football. No matter how fans feel about the Emmy award-winning show's third and final season, we can all agree that the LGBTQ+ representation is nothing short of revolutionary.
For a television show bold enough to tackle generational trauma, mental health, and sexuality; the topic of positive LGBT+ representation seemed to be forgotten. Despite my appreciation for the portrayals, I feel more could have been explored within Colin’s storyline. As crucial as Colin’s coming out is, I can’t help but groan at the idea of yet another coming out story. Audiences nowadays don’t need stories exclusively containing coming-out plots. We need stories of queer characters living and thriving in the world, an unfortunately tall order for studios today.
I cannot express how ecstatic I was when Keeley and her girlfriend, Jack, kissed. It is so refreshing to see Trent Crimm and Keeley Jones be unapologetically themselves in season three; Keeley meets her girlfriend and Trent Crimm confides in Colin about his own struggles coming to terms with his sexuality. However, I couldn’t help but wonder, how would the fictional LGBTQ+ Richmond fans feel about seeing an out Colin on the pitch? Would they feel the same pride as I do when I see Keeley kiss her girlfriend in public?
Shown: Keeley Jones (portrayed by Juno Temple) and Jack Danvers (portrayed by Jodi Balfour)
(TV Fanatic. "We'll Never Have Paris." TV Fanatic. 3 May 2023. Web. 23 Jun. 2023.)
Colin is in a precarious situation as he considers coming out publicly. He’s not just a member of a team, he’s a public figure with people looking up to him. If he comes out to the world, he’ll be in the history books as the first openly gay football player in the premier league. And although that’s a big responsibility, someone has to be the first. I wish we could have seen that be Colin.
The series ends with Colin celebrating the Richmond win by kissing his secret boyfriend on the pitch in front of countless fans and cameras. It is heartwarming to watch. The only thing that would make it better is if the show could portray the importance of representation by showing the fans’ reactions. Did Colin have any fans talk to him after the game? Were they comforted by the fact that they are no longer alone in both loving football and fearing losing it to their sexuality?
Ted Lasso is a show about forgiving yourself for past mistakes and becoming the best version of yourself. But, it’s also about representation and how it only takes one person to change the entire culture of a place. Ted’s positive nature, patience, and willingness to be called a wanker by nearly everyone in the stadium, are what allow him to succeed in making Richmond a tight-knit club off the pitch and a killer adversary on it. Thanks to Doctor Sharon, Colin finally feels confident enough to become the strong LGBTQ+ role model he was always capable of being.
Shown: Colin Hughs (portrayed by Billy Harris) and Michael (portrayed by Luke Ashton)
(Griffiths, Emmy. "Ted Lasso fans have bittersweet theory about Colin’s storyline following latest episode." HELLO!. 30 Mar. 2023. Web. 23 Jun. 2023.)
Perhaps we’ll see Colin step up as a role model in the hinted-at spin-off series. But, for now, we can sit back, relax, and enjoy the wonderful LGBTQ+ representation in Apple TV+’s Ted Lasso.