Keegan Hirst has become one of the very first Rugby League players to come out as gay.
The Battle Bulldogs’ prop has spoken openly about his sexuality, as well as the battle with the “macho” image of his chosen sport. He is the first British player to come out as gay, however he is the second player in the UK to be openly gay, the first being Rugby Union player Gareth Thomas.
When he spoke about this to the Sunday Mirror, he said: “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. The only time I felt free of the torment was when I stepped on the rugby pitch. Now I feel free.”
Naturally, the fact of his marriage makes this especially difficult, his wife was apparently informed “a few weeks ago”, and now they are going through a separation.
“She blamed herself when we separated but I knew she’d done nothing wrong. I couldn’t bear it any more, the guilt of it all, of her not knowing why I left. It was eating me up. We haven’t told the kids yet, they’re too young to understand. I’m not sure how I’d explain it.”
Apparently, his torment was so great that Keegan even considered taking his own life: “On the worst days I’d think, ‘I can’t do this, I’d rather be dead than for it all to come out’.”