(Photo Credits: Screengrab from Discovery Channel’s YouTube Account)

Leinster rugby star Nick McCarthy has come out publicly as gay.

In an interview with his team’s website, leinsterrugby.ie, McCarthy revealed that being in the closet while playing rugby was difficult. However, he was unsure about the idea of coming out publicly, being the private person that he is.

According to McCarthy, his conflicting feelings, “affected me so much that I agonised over my future and contemplated walking away from rugby altogether because I just didn’t think I could come out while playing rugby.”

But things changed when McCarthy opened up to his coaches last year regarding his sexual orientation and then eventually to his teammates in January. He shared, “But, I spoke to Leo (Cullen) and Stuart (Lancaster) last November and the support that I got from them straight away was unbelievable. They helped and guided me over the months that followed so that I felt more comfortable to come out to the group.”

As for his coming out to his teammates, he said, “I came out to my teammates in January and I was obviously pretty nervous about doing so, but I’m really happy that I did it.” He then revealed, “I struggled with coming out for a while and it was starting to impact on me and my happiness so it was the right decision.”

But why did McCarthy feel that he couldn’t come out while playing rugby?

He shared:

I suppose because it’s not really ‘a thing’. It’s not common for a male athlete to come out in sport, never mind professional rugby, and it’s probably something that I didn’t want to believe or accept myself either.

I needed to accept being gay myself before I could address it with others.

I have great friends in rugby but I didn’t know how they would take it.

My experience, since coming out though has been entirely positive. I have realised that anyone who cares about you, just wants you to be happy.

Further, McCarthy also talked about how other athletes like Carl Nassib had helped him a lot. He said:

I’m a private person so I was unsure about coming out publicly.

But looking at Carl Nassib (American Football player) or Josh Cavallo (Australian soccer player) coming out and Jack Dunne here in Leinster and how he spoke publicly last year about his bisexuality, has helped me a lot. I’ve had good conversations with each of them and they’ve been hugely encouraging.

In turn, I feel if I can now help others come out in professional sport or in their everyday lives and make being gay more normal and not a thing to be worried about, then that is a positive.

Read more about this interview here.

Nick McCarthy is a 27-year-old Irish rugby union player. He currently plays as a scrum-half for United Rugby Championship and European Rugby Champions Cup side Leinster, a professional provincial rugby union team based in Ireland.

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