Keegan Hirst - First Openly Gay, Active Rugby League Player
Keegan Hirst is a 6 ft 5 in (1.96 m), 122KG and 32 year old rugby league player from West Yorkshire Town of Batley. From his youth, rugby has coursed through his veins being a born and bred yorkshireman.
Keegan has played for two of the league's top teams, Wakefield Trinity and Bradford Bulldogs and several over teams during his playing career.
The biggest difference between Hirst and hundreds of other rugby league players is that Keegan was the first active player to come out as a gay man.
Keegan was a very happily married man with children, but he had took the brave decision in 2015 to rip the plaster of his married lifestyle and come out in an interview that he was gay. His marriage was dissolved due to this but in the short term life was tough but has got far better since dealing with his secret.
So who else in the sport have come out as gay? Ian Roberts was the first rugby league player to come out as gay but only did so after his playing days where far from over. The most high profile player to come out as gay was Gareth Thomas who was a rugby union player but also he did not choose to do this till he hung up his boots and the locker room was a distant memory. Keegan on the other hand, had taken the brave decision to announce his sexuality to the world and inturn being the first player actively playing the sport to do so.
This for Hirst is a huge step, as he details down in many interviews in 2015, he had to do this for the sake of his own mental health. It is well documented that he had suicidal thoughts due to not being happy. The initial pain he writes “As human beings all we want is to belong, and that fear of being different and being pushed away is a horrible feeling. That’s why a lot of people are scared of coming out, and don’t come out.” The short term pain of coming out for him wasn’t an immediate fix but in the long term himself, his family are far happier knowing the truth.
Rugby is typically a man's man sport. The stereotypical view of rugby players is that they are super tough and the thought of gay men playing in the sport is seen a taboo subject. This isn’t surprising as with football being a global sport, there is still very few male players coming out as gay. We hope in the coming years and with gay players such as Keegan Hirst, this will encorauge other team members and rugby players to come out in both rugby league and rugby union. We also hope that team including top tier super league teams also support and provide a level playing field for stars of all sexuality including gay men, to play in the sport they love.
Since coming out as a gay sportstar for the rugby league, Keegan has gone on to support many stars and players who are gay or come out as gay quite recently.Hirst has recently sent support out to Phillip Scholfield, who recently come out to the world that he was gay during his This Morning slot on TV. Like Keegan, Scofield was also married and had children before coming out. Keegan has spoken to say that Phillip has 100% done the right thing.
Keegan Also credits his good friend Anthony Cotton as a supportive figure in his life, helping with his next life journey as a gay man. Anthony himself is an openly gay actor for Coronation street.
As well as being an active figure in the gay community and supporting stars and sport stars, he has also being supporting gay men with his online body coaching platform aimed at all mens from all sexuality background (https://pt-iq.com/pt-iq/?fbclid=IwAR2YoRdSd9nUB_z0cf-LGDLH1IsGM0uOjBLXJ9v2rw1HjjQ8ZunvJm3CRpg). As well as transforming gay men into hunks, he wants to build their self confidence in the process.
Keep an eye on his Instagram for pictures and story updates of what the rugby start is getting upto - https://www.instagram.com/keeganhirst
If you think rugby isn’t for you then think again. Inclusive Rugby .com is an organisation aimed at all types of people to get people involved in Rugby. Their tagline is, any gender, sexuality, ability or ethnicity. Take a look at their website https://inclusiverugby.com/ or FB page https://www.facebook.com/inclusiverugby/