Keegan Hirst who’s a Prop Forward with the Batley Bulldogs, became the first openly gay rugby league player this weekend after an open and emotional interview with The Sunday Mirror: “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.
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.”
“On the worst days I’d think, ‘I can’t do this, I’d rather be dead than for it all to come out. I never got as far as actually tying a noose or having tablets in my hand. But I thought how I would do it, where I would do it, when I would do it. Thankfully I have friends and family I love and was able to talk myself out of it.
[Then] One day, a few months ago, I just thought, ‘You know what? Actually, this is who I am. I’m gay. I felt I could finally be honest with myself.”
Keegan came out to his wife after he realised she blamed herself for their marriage break-up. She “didn’t ask a lot of questions,” when he spoke to her, “but she was supportive”.
“The support from my team-mates and other rugby league players has really surprised me, it’s all been positive. These are tough blokes. We go out on the field together and it’s 26 blokes knocking seven shades out of each other. But on the other side of it, you go through blood, sweat and tears together – and they’ve been there for me when I needed them most.”
Line up for the scrum starts HERE after me.