(Photo Credits: Screengrab from Sport Bible’s Facebook Account)
In 2015, Keegan Hirst came out as gay to his teammates, making him the first openly gay rugby league player in Britain. Four years on, Hirst—now 31—had spoken with Sport Bible about the moments when he came out to his teammates, their captain, his wife, and his family on separate occasions as well as their respective reactions, and how that time of his life was like for him.
Hirst said that looking back he realized he was gay when he was probably about 13 or 14. He added, “Where I come from, there were no gay people. So I kind of went into denial about it and hoped that it would go away. And obviously it never did.”
Fast forward to when he was 27, he was out drinking with some of his teammates when one of them asked him if the rumor about him being gay is true. Hirst said that prior to this occasion, he had already told his wife and they’d been separated for months, he had also already came out to his mother and siblings and he remembered thinking, “Do I admit it? Do I come out with it? Or do I deny, deny, deny.”
He decided to tell them the truth and suddenly, one of his best mates started crying and when Hirst asked him why, his friend replied, “I’m sorry you had to go through that on your own and that we couldn’t be there for you.”
After coming out to his teammates, Hirst then informed his coach John Kear who merely said, “It don’t matter what you are to me, old cock, you’re a rugby player and you’re my captain. And that’s all that matters.”
Hirst said his coach’s support had meant a lot to him as it reinforced the idea that he was doing the right thing especially since he had been disowned by his mother and brother. He added that for a time, his coming out had “a mixed bag effect” on his mental health. Hirst shared, “I didn’t know what was going on with me, with life, with my job or anything, and I didn’t see another way out of it.”
Today, Hirst is glad that he came through the other side; that he is able to stand here and say, “Nothing lasts forever, whether it’s good or bad.” Watch him tell his story below.