James Child opens up on coming out and dealing with homophobic abuse

James Child is a brilliant example in the world of sport.

Why? Well for starters he was a terrific official but also he was an example to an entire community of people being an openly gay official in a world – the world of sports – where this is all too rare.

Fortunately in rugby league we have seen the likes of Gareth Thomas and Keegan Hirst as well but beyond that there are few examples in the wider sporting world.

However, Child has of course had to deal with abuse from a coach and of course in a now infamous incident with Zak Hardaker in 2014 which saw the then Leeds Rhinos fullback suspended for five games.

These incidents made Child contemplate speaking out but he wanted to do it on his own terms as he explained on BBC 5 Live.

He said: “There was a number of incidents in previous years where a coach had been suspended for homophobic abuse and that coach never ever spoke to me again. He won’t look me in the eye and has only recently gone out of the game again.

“Then there was the incident involving Hardaker a number of years later so there were incidents both on and off the field that I’d contemplated speaking about publicly before.

“But I wanted to do it when it was the right time for me and not because I felt as though I should justify it for anyone else.

“When I did do that I felt that the game was supportive of me. There weren’t many conversations with players and clubs but that wasn’t why I did it.

“I didn’t do it to get somebody to put an arm around me or give me a round of applause. It is who I am, it’s not the biggest deal in the world but I wanted to speak about it because there will be plenty of other people in the sport, whether that be a fan, a referee, a player or a club official that may be gay and may not be comfortable enough to be themselves.”

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