The times they are a-changin’…
Bob Dylan’s timeless message is certainly apt when one looks at the rugby landscape, and thankfully, it’s changing for the good.
This weekend, Keegan Hirst of the Batley Bulldogs became the first openly gay British rugby league professional. Hirst, a father of two, made the decision to publicly announce his sexual orientation through an interview with the Sunday Mirror.
“I’m comfortable in my own skin, probably for the first time ever. I’m not withholding anything and there’s not that sense of dread.”
Hirst also spoke about the distress that he experienced when struggling to come to terms with his sexuality. In a macho muscle-driven sport, the 27-year-old was unsure whether he would be accepted by the rugby public.
“I suppose the stereotype of a rugby player is, you’re supposed to be tough, you’re supposed to be macho. I thought I’d be disowned by friends and family but I haven’t been. People keep saying I’m brave – I don’t feel brave. I’m just talking about me.”
Gareth Thomas, who went public with his own sexuality in 2009, famously said:
“I don’t want to be known as a gay rugby player, I am a rugby player first and foremost. I am a man.”
Well, in true Gareth Thomas fashion, the Welsh legend has tweeted his support for Hirst.
— Gareth Thomas (@gareththomas14) August 16, 2015
Homosexuality was once taboo in professional sport, but guys like Thomas and Hirst are paving the way for their peers to speak more openly about their sexuality. The times they are a-changin’, but thankfully they are a-changin’ for the better.
Check out the full interview here: