Chelsea star Michael Essien lends support to the Ghanaian LGBTQ Community, faces backlash, and withdraws his support

Chelsea star Michael Essien lends support to the Ghanaian LGBTQ Community, faces backlash, and withdraws his support

Chelsea footballer, Michael Essien sparked controversy when he posted a pro-equality message in support of the belaboured community in his home country where homosexuality is still illegal.

The former midfielder, 38, has both French and Ghanaian citizenship, sought to join the scores of celebrities, politicians and other influential figures of Ghanaian heritage as they united to condemn the anti-LGBT+ clampdown going on in Ghana.

“We see you, we hear you, we support you. Our LGBTQIA Plus Community for Ghana,” he wrote on Instagram, alongside an image of the words: “Ghana support equality.”

However, the father-of-two was quickly hit with a wave of backlash from his followers.

“You just lost your one follower, good luck, byee,” wrote one.

Another said, “Delete else you will loose [sic] followers.”

Essien’s popularity took a hit on Twitter too, where overnight his follower count reportedly went from 1.7 million followers to just over 688,000.

And as his followers peeled away, so too did Essien’s support for queer Ghanaians. By Wednesday (March 3), he had deleted the pro-LGBT+ post from Instagram.

Ghana’s president Nana Akufo-Addo recently declared same-sex marriages will never be allowed under his leadership. The 76-year-old politician said on Saturday (February 27): “I have said it before, and let me stress it again. It will not be under the Presidency of Nana Addo Dankwah Akufo-Addo that same-sex marriage will be legal.”

Meanwhile, actor Idris Elba and model Naomi Campbell joined 65 other British celebrities, designers and politicians, mostly of Ghanaian heritage, in calling for Ghana’s president to engage with the country’s LGBT+ community in an open letter published on social media.

The letter read: “In recent weeks, we have watched with profound concern as you have had to question the safety of your vital work at the ‘LGBT+ Rights Ghana’ center in Accra, and feared for your personal wellbeing and security.

“It is unacceptable to us that you feel unsafe. We are watching and listening and we will use our collective power to shield you and raise you up.”

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  1. Black Dynasty
    March 04, 10:22 Reply

    Sighs i won’t judge because I do not understand what it’s like to be in the shoes of straight allies.
    It’s great that he tried but i also understand why he deleted it.
    It’s one thing to receive backlash for who you are, it’s another to receive backlash when you’re publicly trying to support others for a cause with consequences that would negatively impact your career and means of livelihood.

    I respect that he actually made an effort where others kept quiet.

    • Francis
      March 04, 12:39 Reply

      Thanks for this perspective as I had already tagged him weak/basic/coward! At least all he did was delete. He didn’t issue some rubbish statement taking his words back.

      • Black Dynasty
        March 04, 15:39 Reply

        Precisely, he deleted to take the heat off him. Now, if he’d spewed homophobic trash after that, then I’d have called him a coward.

    • McDuke
      March 04, 19:04 Reply

      Sorry I beg to differ. What possibly has he to lose apart losing his street credility back home. He’s an international figure so I see no reason why he should back down now after making the post initially. I’d rather he stayed mute on the issue abnitio. Withdrawing now says a lot about his initial motives and what kind of person he is. Also, he is not just fighting for others, he is also fighting for himself, for his kids, and for humanity. It affects us all whether you’re LGBT or not.

      • Black Dynasty
        March 04, 19:17 Reply

        When you lose 60% of your followers online in less than 24 hours more than street credibility is lost. An overwhelming majority of his fan base is African, west African particularly.

        Fan base = sponsorship, advertising and merchandising revenue opportunities. Lose those and you lose actual money.

        “Also, he is not just fighting for others, he is also fighting for himself, for his kids, and for humanity. It affects us all whether you’re LGBT or not.” I agree, however he is a straight man as far as I know and thus covered by hetero privilege and literally did not need to speak out. He did nonetheless, i doubt he anticipated just how much backlash he would get and if he has PR management, they would rightly advise him to remove the post.

        In my view, he made an attempt to be brave. Courage is not an easy thing when you don’t have to walk a mile in the shoes of those you choose to stand up for.

        But it’s cool, we can agree to disagree.

        • Theo
          March 05, 11:26 Reply

          There is no way he’d tell me he wasn’t aware there would be consequences if he knew he’d not have been able to stand the heat then silence would have been preferred,he not only threw us under the bus but gave a clear signal that bullying tactics will get allies to withdraw their support,this just mirrors the actions of the femco org during the #Endsars movement we obviously can speak for ourselves so you either go all the way with us or don’t even bother because last I checked this wasn’t requested of him

  2. Dunder
    March 04, 11:08 Reply

    The real cowards are the wicked people who threw a partt to mark their assent into fame and their passage to saner climes. These fools went into “hiding” instead of owning their selfish stupidity with their full chest. How many gay people has Essien put in the line of fire or hurt? His job is to play football and endorse whatever garbage people are willing to spend money on. It is not to advocate for you. We need to stop directing this energy to the wrong people. The foolish ambassadors are somewhere sipping tea and the people who started this mess have the perfect sob story for the embassy or the press. Why should Essien take the heat when he didn’t start the fire? When he looses his income, would you send him money?

    There was no altruistic purpose to this sham of a safe space. It makes victims of all of us. We are the victims here, not the paid actors and their enablers.

  3. ROCK
    March 08, 08:39 Reply

    He never had 1.7m followers to begin with

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