It could have been the start of a good joke. However, no one laughed after it was revealed that actor Kieron Richardson had begun to receive homophobic messages on social media following a mix-up with a footballer of the same name.
As all Vada readers probably know, Richardson is an openly gay actor and a star in Channel 4 teen-soap Hollyoaks. But as it transpired, there is also a Kieran Richardson who is a football player who has recently left Fullham to join Aston Villa. When the footballer’s move made headlines a lot of people began to get confused between Kieron and Kieran and led to some believing the 28 year-old actor would be signing for Aston Villa.
What followed this comedy of errors were dozens of tweets from fans – some of which contained some homophobic comments. Richardson stressed that the abusive messages were made by a minute section of the fans but he took the chance to hit back on it on his weekly Gaydio show, remarking that the mix-up was also made by Aston Villa’s website and Sky Sports.
During his show he said:
‘It’s made me feel very sad for the past couple of days. I share the same name as a footballer who signed for Aston Villa on Friday. Sky Sports were talking about this story and used my photograph instead of the footballer Kieran Richardson. Also, Aston Villa Official – their website – used the same photograph.
‘At first I didn’t think anything of it and thought it was quite funny, until I went onto my Twitter feed and people genuinely thought I’d left Hollyoaks and signed for Aston Villa.
‘Being openly gay, [I] was targeted with abuse [from people] going, “You gay blah blah blah, we’re not having you playing for our team”. [It was] homophobic abuse all night long. At first I thought, “I’m not having this, I’m going to stick up for myself”. I started to reply to a few people, which spurred it on even more.’
Since he publicly came out as gay in 2010, Richardson said he has not suffered from homophobic abuse, but found a lot when his name was related to football news. The actor who plays Ste Hay in Hollyoaks went on to say:
‘I thought, “Yeah, we’re in the 21st century and actually homophobia’s more or less been stamped out”, because I’ve never really felt that or heard it from anybody before until now.
‘If anything, I know that I’m gay, you can tweet me and tell me I’m gay – it’s not a shock to me. I know what I get up to in the bedroom and I’m not sad about that.
‘I am sad for other people and their attitudes. If this case has now stopped one person from coming out and has frightened them, then it’s a terrible situation.’