Ex-New Zealand prop Campbell Johnstone has been hailed as a ‘trailblazer’ after becoming the first All Black to come out as gay.
Johnstone featured in three Tests for the national team and also played for the Crusaders, Biarritz and Ospreys.
The 43-year-old is hoping that coming out publicly can help other rugby players and remove the stigma of being gay.
Helping other people
“If I can be the first All Black that comes out as gay and take away the pressure and stigma surrounding the issue it can actually help other people,” he told Seven Sharp.
“We’ll know that there is one amongst the All Blacks.
“If I open up that door and magically make that closet disappear, then we’re going to help a lot of people.
“I pushed that side of me down deeper and deeper. I went to some interesting places.”
Johnstone has received support throughout New Zealand, including from New Zealand Rugby CEO Mark Robinson.
“Your strength and visibility will pave the way for others in our game,” Robinson wrote in a statement.
“Rugby’s a sport that is welcoming to everyone and a place where people should feel safe to be who they are.
“We know that there are people who have not always been comfortable to be who they are in rugby. We want to be clear, no matter who you love, rugby has your back.”
Blazing a trail
The former prop follows high profile names such as Nigel Owens and Gareth Thomas in coming out, while Leinster scrum-half Nick McCarthy revealed last year that he is gay.
Former New Zealand deputy prime minister Grant Robertson believes that Johnstone’s announcement is significant for both sport and society as a whole.
“A huge thanks to Campbell Johnstone for blazing this trail. Its important to create an inclusive environment in sport at all levels, and that starts at the top. In the Black Ferns we have had role models for the Rainbow community for some time,” Robertson said.
“Now with the All Blacks another barrier has been broken. I hope it inspires future generations to be open, happy and comfortable. There is still a long way to go, but this feels a very significant step.”
The article New Zealand: Former prop Campbell Johnstone becomes the first openly gay All Black appeared first on Planetrugby.com.