Keegan Hirst’s wife has expressed her support for her husband after he became the first rugby league player to come out as gay.
Hirst revealed his sexuality in August, an announcement which was greeted with overwhelming support from his fellow players and fans.
The 27-year-old, who captains the Batley Bulldogs, said he was drinking heavily as he battled with his sexuality, putting his wife Sara through a lot of stress. At one point he says he even considered suicide before eventually choosing to come out to the woman he married in November 2011.
Speaking to the Mirror about his sexuality last month, he said:
I had a wife and kids. I’ve been a builder, doorman, worked in factories – I play rugby. I tick every macho box. How could I be gay? I’m from Batley for goodness sake. No one is gay in Batley.
Sara Hirst, who was separated from her husband at the time, told The Mirror she was initially “stunned” when Hirst told her he was gay and comforted him for hours. However, days later she became angry that he hadn’t told her about his sexuality sooner, especially when he went public with the news.
Something snapped and the ranting started on the phone. We’d split once years ago after our daughter was born, so I was like ‘why didn’t you just leave me then? Why did you come back to me and propose and have another child?’
I was never angry because he was gay. I’ve got gay friends. It was thinking ‘was it all a lie? Why have you strung me along? Was our marriage all a sham? Have you been with a man? Have you cheated on me? Is that why you’re telling me?’ It all just chipped away at me.
However, the mother-of-three is now coming to terms with the news and says she is “proud” of his decision and hopes to continue to support him in the future.
It was hard to know what to say because we were both crying. I was just like ‘right, it is what it is’ and I said to him ‘we’ll get through it. I’ll support you’. I’m able to say now ‘yeah, this is my husband – at least for the moment. I’m proud of him and I can support him.’