Rugby star Keegan Hirst: I convinced myself my sexuality was a ‘phase’

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Rugby League player Keegan Hirst has opened up about staying in the closet for so many years.

Keegan Hirst, prop and captain for Batley Bulldogs rugby team, came out publicly in the Sunday Mirror yesterday.

In an interview with Radio 5 Live this morning, the rugby star – who was married with children – spoke more about his past “urges” and the breakdown of his marriage.

He told the interviewer: “I wasn’t…in torment or in turmoil every day for the last 27 years. It’s not like that.

“I suppose you’d get urges – in my head I thought, ‘these’ll go away, this is just a phase’.”

He explained: “I knew I was different when I was 11 or 12. I wasn’t necessarily attracted to lads then, but I couldn’t put my finger on it.

“When I was 15/16 those feelings started coming back through… and then by 18/19 – I suppose look back now I was in denial – but in my own head I had no conception that I was gay.”

Hirst went into denial about his sexuality, explaining: “I couldn’t say to myself, in my own head – ‘I think you’re gay’.

“To say it out loud would make it real, to admit it and I wasn’t in a place in my own head where I could do that.”

The rugby star also spoke about when that changed and how he never had a ‘eureka moment’.

He said: I suppose mostly my outlook on thing’s must’ve changed… I became more accepting of it in my own head and I could say it.”

Being a father of two, the prop spoke about his marriage and eventually, it’s breakdown.

“When I was with my wife, the last eight years have been really happy.

“I loved her. The day I got married, I thought we were going to be together forever. I said my vows, I meant them.”

The marriage supposedly broken down due to Hirst’s reckless behaviour.

The player said: “I was going out, I would stay wouldn’t want to come home…I wasn’t acting like a husband should act.”

Hirst also praised previous rugby stars that have come out – such as Rugby Union’s Gareth Thomas.

He said: “If I can help in anyway towards it not becoming as much of a taboo – that can only be a good thing.”

The star recently returned to the pitch and was greeted by overwhelming support.


Listen to a clip of the interview below.