Earlier this week, Keegan Hirst a 27 year old Rugby League Player announced to the world that he was gay.
He appears to have been universally praised for speaking his truth in the context of being very much an athlete in a “man’s world”.
I salute his courage in speaking out his truth, it can’t have been easy, because although the general reaction has been favorable from his friends, family, team-mates, fans, celebrities and even his wife from whom he is separated, there was no guarantee that his truth would be accepted by all.
He said in an interview that having confronted his truth and come to terms with it, he has announced it to the world so that he no longer has to look over his shoulder all of the time.
I have felt very unsettled by the announcement, perhaps a tad jealous of him.
My journey to self acceptance has taken me over 30 years and is known only to a small circle of friends including my wife.
However, I was less able to confront the issue 22 years ago, when I recognised and loathed my own truth of taking the risk of losing my wife and my children.
I had made a commitment to my wife – a bond of marriage – and I could not risk hurting her or losing her – for better, or worse, in sickness and in health, for richer for poorer – those were the promises I made and the fact that I had not matured into full knowledge of my sexuality until after my marriage was incidental to the fact that I was married.
I have felt again this week, a sense of having failed myself, my wife and my family for not having announced my truth at the age of 29 years when I was fully aware of my truth.
I had to dig deep into my coaching experience in recent years to expel the judge from my thoughts, and recognise that the choice I made also has its merits.
Keegan’s choice does not mean that for him the road is smooth – it is not smooth for many of us in life, likewise my journey until recently was tortuous and painful, but I am winning through.
I have learned to love myself, acknowledge my failings and my bravery and strength to do what I did do and to move forward, like Keegan will do in the years ahead unburdened from the pain and turmoil of inner conflict.
Well done Keegan, I wish you and your family well.
My next blog will be “Three Hail Mary’s”