David Beckham stars in Qatar promotional video amid backlash
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David Beckham is the sarong-wearing, golden ball-swinging husband of a Spice Girl who basically invented the word “metrosexual”.

And yet, this hitherto national treasure has started to dramatically shed his glossy sheen.

The footballing superstar is in the midst of a spectacular fall from grace thanks to his £10 million role as ambassador for the imminent World Cup in Qatar.

The Middle Eastern nation is widely condemned for its approach to human rights, namely its widespread use of modern slaves and its criminalisation of homosexuality.

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And so the question on everyone’s lips is: how can a self-proclaimed gay ally justify promoting a country which systematically locks up LGBTQ+ people?

To illustrate the extent of Beckham’s hypocrisy (and up the pressure on him to end his multi-million-pound deal with the Qataris), indy100 has compiled a list of the moments over the years that cemented his now crumbling status as a “gay icon”.

1998 – That sarong

First things first, we’re not suggesting that wearing a sarong, or indeed any clothes, should be an indication of someone’s sexuality. BUT, when Beckham stepped out in a saron slung over his trousers in 1998, it was pretty revolutionary.

To be a star of one of the world’s most macho sports and leave the house in what most people branded a skirt marked a shift in gender perceptions.

“Beckham was the antithesis to the godawful lad culture of the late Nineties,” British GQ fashion editor Nick Carvell told CNN back in 2013.

“Being a footballer who was clearly motivated by fashion trends and absolutely loved clothes, he turned the idea of what it meant to be a stylish sportsman at the time on its head.”

Here's what it looked like, lest we forget:

2002 – Looking polished

Sure, the sarong didn’t go down well with everyone, but that didn’t stop Beckham from continuing to experiment with more traditionally “girly” forms of presentation.

Becks raised eyebrows again in 2002 when he proudly went about his business with nails painted baby pink. And in case anyone missed it, he then sported metallic grey polish for a GQ magazine cover shoot.

“He was certainly one of the first celebrities to de-stigmatise grooming pursuits that were previously seen as girls-only,” Carvell said. Almost two decades later, in 2019, Beckham donned green eyeshadow for LOVE magazine.

Breaking down such barriers would be at the heart of his transformation into an LGBTQ+ idol.

2002 – Becoming a gay cover star

That same year, when Beckham also happened to be the England team captain, he made history by becoming the first heterosexual footballer to appear on the front cover of a gay publication when his face was splashed across Attitude Magazine.

In a 2015 article marking its 21-year anniversary, writer Madeleine Morley cited Becks’s as her favourite of all the magazine’s cover shoots.

“He is an icon of modern masculinity and so it was a real moment, a signal to the country that it was OK to be OK with gay people,” she wrote at the time.


2002 – Sir Elton John becomes godfather to two of his kids

Beckham has repeatedly shared his love for close friend Sir Elton John, even naming him as godfather to not one but two of his sons: Brooklyn and Romeo.

Sadly, we can’t imagine all footballers would be so ready to profess their closeness to an openly gay man, but that’s never been an issue for old Golden Balls.

In 2019, he posted a snap of himself with his arm around his pal, captioned: “Gorgeous day with Elton John David Furnish. 24 years we have known each other and we laugh like it’s day one…” followed by two heart emojis.

Beckham has been friends with Sir Elton for nearly three decadesDavid Beckham/Facebook


2007 – ‘I feel honoured to be a gay icon’

Beckham said he felt “honoured to have the tag of ‘gay icon’” during a 2002 interview with the BBC.

The then-32-year-old suggested to the Lines of Enquiry radio programme that he’d possibly earned himself the accolade because: “I like to look after myself, I like to look smart and presentable most of the time.”

He added: “I always liked to look good, even when I was a little kid. I was given the option when I was a page boy once of either wearing a suit or wearing knickerbockers and long socks and ballet shoes – and I chose the ballet shoes and knickerbockers.

“It was a little bit strange at the time and my dad gave me a bit of stick – but I was happy.”


2009 – Officially hailed as a gay icon

In 2009, a OnePoll.com survey of 5,000 gay men and lesbians named its top 10 list of “male celebrity gay icons”.

Only one of these icons wasn’t actually gay himself: you guessed it… David Beckham.


2014 – Celebrating Gay Pride

Not necessarily best known for his way with words, Becks shared a photo of a rainbow flag to his Facebook page in June 2014, along with the caption: “Great to see people celebrating Gay Pride around the world this weekend.”

Around the world, yes. But in Qatar…?


2018 – Named a top 10 ‘Celebrity Ally’ at the British LGBT+ Awards

Just four years before he’d describe an evening in Qatar as “perfection for me”, Beckham was named a top ally at the British LGBT+ Awards.

Here’s what the ceremony’s organisers said of him at the time: “Faced with tribal football fans, a vicious sports press and a baying bevvy of showbiz journalists, David Beckham has never shied away from his status as a gay icon. He clearly lets his children express themselves (Brooklyn has been spotted in a Pride top) and is generally just a top sporting gent.”

June 2020 – Wearing a Pride t-shirt

Back to the footballer’s wardrobe choices...

In June 2020, Becks's popstar-turned-designer wife Victoria shared a snap of her hubby wearing a t-shirt of her own making.

The top bore the words "Listen Without Prejudice" – the title of George Michael's 1990 album – in a rainbow font, in celebration of Pride month.

TheThe top was a tribute to both Gay Pride and the late George MichaelVictoria Beckham/Instagram


May 2022 – 'It shouldn't be strange for a footballer to come out'

Beckham told theEvening Standardearlier this year that he was glad football had improved since his own playing days when it comes to tackling prejudice.

“I played for 22 years, I saw a lot of racism and homophobia and do think it has changed," he said. "But there’s still a lot of work to be done.”

The former Man Utd star said of Blackpool’s Jake Daniels, who came out as the first gay current player in May: “It’s a shame that when someone does come out that it’s such a strange thing. I’ve always felt that way about when someone does come out… it shouldn’t be”.

He continued: “At the end of the day there will be a huge amount of gay people in sports and why should they be any different from anyone else?”

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