New Zealand rugby legend Campbell Johnstone becomes first All Blacks player to come out as gay

New Zealand rugby star Campbell Johnstone

New Zealand rugby star Campbell Johnstone has made history after coming out as the first gay All Blacks player.

The 43-year-old opened up about his sexuality for the first time during a Monday (30 January) interview on TVNZ’s Seven Sharp.

Johnstone told journalist Hilary Barry that he wanted to “take away the pressure” from coming out in the world-renowned Rugby Union team by becoming the first to do so.

“Then the public will know that there is one in among the All Blacks and it could be one of the final pieces of the puzzle sports-wise that gives everyone closure.”

The rugby prop joined the team as All Black number 1056 in 2005 where he played three test matches against teams including Fiji and the British and Irish Lions.

Additionally, he played 38 Super Rugby matches for Christchurch’s Crusaders and spent a season with the Ospreys.

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During that time, Campbell Johnstone admitted he struggled with the duality of his sexuality and what he believed an All Blacks player needed to embody.

“My view of an All Black was many, strong, possibly with a wife and kids,” he said. “I pushed that side of me down deeper and deeper.

“I may have had a bad game and blamed that side of me, you know, and it slowly starts to affect you. It’s hard living a double life.”

But after coming to terms with the idea that being a rugby player and LGBTQ+ aren’t exclusive, Johnstone had the courage to come out to his family and close friends.

“I did that a long time ago. It was pretty much like telling them I just ran out of milk, one of them was like, ‘yeah it’s about time.'”

The All Blacks officials had nothing but love for Campbell Johnstone after his announcement on Monday, saying that his “strength and visibility” would pave the way for acceptance in rugby.

In a statement, New Zealand Rugby CEO Mark Robinson said: “On behalf of the New Zealand rugby community and as a former teammate, I want to acknowledge and support Campbell for sharing his authentic story.

“We want to be clear, no matter who you love, rugby has your back.”