Former Wakefield Trinity star opens up on what it was like coming out as gay as a professional sportsman

In August 2015, Keegan Hirst became the first professional rugby league player to come out as gay following the footsteps of code switched Gareth Thomas.

Since then, Hirst has been a great champion of equality in our sport and stood up against the controversy around Manly Sea Eagles’ Pride Shirt which seven players refused to wear.

This has sparked something in him which prompted him to come out of retirement and he is set to play for former club Batley Bulldogs in 2023.

The former Super League star with Wakefield Trinity has continued to be vocal about the importance of equality and inclusion in sport speaking on the Kirk Miller Podcast recently.

During which he explained why it would be difficult for any professional player to come out: “From the outside looking in, you go, you know, he’s a decent looking lad, he’s got a good looking girlfriend, he’s got a kid, he plays professional rugby.”

He also opened up on why it was difficult for him to come out: “I knew that I didn’t want to hurt, my wife, my kid.”

Ultimately though, he felt he had to and explained how it happened admitting that he couldn’t bring himself to say “I’m gay.”

He said: “I went and told Sara because I think I owed her it, I think she was in shock really. At the time, I couldn’t say ‘I’m gay’, instead I said ‘I kinda like lads.'”

Stories like this are still important in rugby league to ensure inclusion and equality: such messages are of course at the heart of the Rugby League World Cup.

You can listen to the full podcast here.

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