It’s been a big week for queer fans of rugby. First, former New Zealand All Blacks player Campbell Johnstone came out as gay and now out athlete Keegan Hirst is set to return to the sport this weekend after initially retiring in 2020.
Back in 2015, Hirst made history by becoming the first British professional rugby player to come out as gay.
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His closet door bustdown propelled him into the spotlight, which he used to help increase visibility for LGBTQ+ athletes in the sport. This is something he plans to propel further now that he’s set to return to play for the Batley Bulldogs after three years away.
“I do see it as a bit of responsibility and a bit of a duty, but it’s something I relish,” Hirst told the sports blog Love Rugby League. “It adds a bit of meaning to it, it’s not just for the club, for the game, for myself, for my family, it’s also for the LGBT community and things like that.”
Despite the rampant homophobia in many sports, including some teams and players refusing to support Pride nights, Hirst said he hasn’t noticed any unfair treatment by teammates or fans.
“There are all sorts of people, characters and backgrounds that play rugby league. I’m relatively sane compared to most of them! So I think the fact that I am gay is just by the by really,” he added.
“It’s not an issue for players, I don’t think it’s an issue for fans either. I think the reason it gets the attention it gets is just because it seems so odd that there’s such a small number.”
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Should more athletes come out, Hirst is optimistic that future gay players in the league won’t experience as much resistance.
“I don’t know what the future holds with regards to gay representation in rugby league, but hopefully it’ll be a bit easier for the next guy.”
During his three years away from rugby, Hirst–who has two children from his previous marriage to a woman–has enjoyed a thriving personal training business and started a relationship with handsome British YouTuber Joel Wood.
The sexy couple is no stranger to giving fans a glimpse into their lives as the pair can often be seen working out, traveling the world, and just being ridiculously cute together.
If you need further proof for wanting a hot rugby boyfriend, look no further …