Over the weekend British rugby star Keegan Hirst came out as gay after marrying a woman and fathering two children. The story he tells in the Daily Mirror is all too familiar to those of us who suppressed who were are and did what was expected of us. As in my case and that of so many others, eventually the strain becomes too much and one simply can no longer play the role one believes family and society demand. The collateral damage, of course, is the straight spouse - who never seems to appear on the radar screen of anti-gay extremists who continue to push the :ex-gay" myth in their quest for money and to massage their own psycho-sexual issues. Here are highlights from the interview article:
Rugby League player Keegan Hirst is the first British professional in the code to openly say he is gay. Respected prop Keegan, 27, reveals the secret torment of dealing with his sexuality while carving out a career in one of the world’s most macho sports.
Speaking exclusively to the Sunday Mirror, the dad of two tells of the moment he finally found the words to explain to his wife the reason they could no longer be together. And he talks emotionally of the support he got, not only from her but also from his rugby team-mates.
The 6ft 4in captain of West Yorkshire side Batley Bulldogs said: “At first I couldn’t even say ‘I’m gay’ in my head, let alone out loud. “Now I feel like I’m letting out a long breath that I’ve held in for a long time.” . . . And he reveals: “The only time I felt free of the torment was when I stepped on the rugby pitch. Now I feel free.”
. . . . he knew he had to be honest with his wife after he realised she blamed herself for their marriage break-up. He said: “I finally told my wife I was gay a few weeks ago. “She blamed herself when we separated but I knew she’d done nothing wrong. I couldn’t bear it any more, the guilt of it all, of her not knowing why I left. It was eating me up.
Keegan says he first felt he might be gay as a teenager. He said: “I had girlfriends on and off, but at about 15, I started feeling attracted to guys too. “I was having conflicting feelings, but it was something I suppressed. It wasn’t the done thing to admit it.”
He said: “By the time I was 18, I was in complete denial, hoping it would go away. It was inconceivable to tell anybody how I was feeling. "I didn’t have it right in my own head, so how could I tell anybody? “Society dictates that when you’re a 16-year-old lad you have a girlfriend, you sleep with her and that’s how it is.
“It wasn’t that I wasn’t happy with her, it was that I wasn’t happy with myself.” He adds: “I feel bad for what I’ve put her through, but hopefully it’s a case of better late than never. “She’s got the chance now to get on with her life, to find someone new to be happy with. She deserves that.”
At his lowest, Keegan says, he considered taking his own life. “On the worst days I’d think, ‘I can’t do this, I’d rather be dead than for it all to come out.’
I totally understand his feelings. I wish him happiness and hope that both he and his former wife find happiness.