Written By: Jack Flanagan 16/8/15
Rugby player Keegan Hirst is the first British rugby league player to come out as gay.
Hirst, 27, gave an interview with the Mirror in which he announced his real sexuality saying: ‘Now I feel free.’
In the interview he said he struggled with suicidal thoughts, though he never actually ‘tied a noose’, and relied on friends and family to help him pull through.
He told his wife months before the interview, saying his ‘stomach was in knots’ and he couldn’t get the words out.
After he told her they both cried, but he insisted it wasn’t her fault: ‘It was my fault’.
The rugby star, who is captain of the West Yorkshire side Batley Bulldogs, has split up with his wife of four years and hasn’t yet told his two children, who are two and seven years old.
‘We haven’t told the kids yet, they’re too young to understand,’ he said.
The struggle with his identity was a huge strain on him before coming out.
After each game he’d go out: ‘I was drinking 20 pints plus every time. I’d roll in at 5.30[am] on a Monday and have to be up for work at six.
‘My wife would ask why was I out till all hours, who was I with, what was I doing, where had I been.
‘It wasn’t that I wasn’t happy with her, it was that I wasn’t happy with myself.’
Now he says: ‘I’m comfortable in my own skin, probably for the first time ever.’
Hirst goes up against his team’s local rivals Dewsbury today (Sunday) – but isn’t worried about homophobic taunts.