A man stands up at a football awards dinner and, allegedly, makes a joke about the term LGBT. A few days later, a professional footballer stands up and announces he’s gay. What should we make of it all? Is football anti-progressive or is it changing? And if it is changing, is it changing fast enough?

The awards dinner in question, in case you missed it, was the annual event staged earlier this month by The Scottish Football Writers’ Association. One of the invited speakers was a former lawyer Bill Copeland who, as well as the LGBT gag, is accused of using a racial term aimed at Japanese people and various other jokes about women. It prompted several people at the dinner to walk out.

I spoke to one of the women who left the room and she said misogynistic jokes were made by speakers at the event every year but it was brushed off as banter. Another woman who was there told me there was a collective gasp when the speaker used the racial term. The SFWA apologised and said there would be a review but’s it tempting to conclude that the speaker’s gags – and the fact lots of people were laughing – are signs that football isn’t changing like the rest of us are.

And then this happened: Jake Daniels, a 17-year-old forward with Blackpool FC, came out as gay, making him the first active male professional football player to do so since Justin Fashanu in the 90s. Daniels said he’d known his whole life that he was gay and now felt ready to come out and be himself. He also said he hoped that by doing so he might be a role model for others.

It’s striking, however, that after his courageous act, Daniels is still alone as an out gay player in the professional men’s game. It’s also striking what players and managers have been saying about why that might be. Gary Neville for instance said the football dressing room could be an “evil place” dominated by ego-driven men. Daniels, he said, would probably have announced his sexuality a long time ago had he not been a footballer.

On the face of it, all of this – the awards dinner and the atmosphere in the changing room – look like different parts of the same problem: they are places where jokes and behaviour and banter that should have died in the 70s live on. Daniels said there are people working in the same space as him that still do not feel comfortable revealing their sexuality – and who can blame them.

But dig a bit deeper and maybe we should feel more positive. One of the reasons Jake Daniels has been able to come out is he’s young and, even though he’s a footballer, part of a generation who feel way more comfortable about alternative sexualities than the previous generation was. I’m confident he will be followed by many more young players because they are generally unburdened by a lot of the prejudices older people carry around.

There are even signs of hope to be seen at the awards ceremony as well. One female sports writer who was at the event told me the speaker who cracked the jokes was a relic of the past that was fast disappearing and that, as a woman sports writer, she’d only ever experienced respect and support from her male colleagues, especially the younger ones. Other female writers said the same thing.

The point here is that it’s all about age in the end. The speaker at the awards event was – not to put too fine a point on it – old, but among younger people in the game negative attitudes to women, or gay people, or other races are much less common. In other words, the old ways are slowly dying out.

I know this probably won’t be much of a consolation to players who are still hiding their sexuality or, for that matter, people who have to endure the racist or homophobic jokes of the game’s oldest relics.

But remember that the relics are slowly disappearing and young men like Jake are slowly taking over. It means that one day football will be like the rest of society. The pace of change is frustrating of course. But don’t be too hard on the game: the young ones will make it happen.