27 year old Rugby League player Keegan Hirst has decided to come out as gay, making him the first openly gay British player in the sport.
“At first I couldn’t even say ‘I’m gay’ in my head, let alone out loud. Now I feel like I’m letting out a long breath that I’ve held in for a long time,” explained Hirst in an exclusive interview with the Sunday Mirror.
The prop for the Batley Bulldogs, is married with two children.
“I had a wife and kids. I’ve been a builder, doorman, worked in factories, I play rugby. I tick every macho box. How could I be gay? I’m from Batley for goodness sake. No one is gay in Batley.”
The Batley Bulldogs play in the Kingston Press Competition which acts as the country’s second-tier competition below the Super League.
After coming to terms with being gay, Hirst realised he had to be upfront and come out to his wife because she blamed herself for him leaving her.
Hirst and his wife told their kids, aged seven and two, that they have split up, but believe their children are still “too young to understand” so didn’t go into details of why.
Hirst’s struggle with his sexuality, how he came to accept that he was gay, and the fear of rejection if people ever found out is also touched on in the interview.
Hirst first began feeling attracted to guys at age 15.
“I thought I’d be disowned by friends and family but I haven’t been,” he said.
“The support from my teammates and other rugby league players has really surprised me, it’s all been positive.”
Since his coming out, Hirst has taken to Twitter to thank fans, friends and supporters for the well wishes, and messages of support that have flooded in.
Last Updated on Aug 17, 2015