PUBLISHED: 01:35, 30 August 2015 | UPDATED: 01:36, 30 August 2015
- England sevens player Sam Stanley, 23, has revealed that he is gay
- Stanley is the first rugby union player to publicly come out as gay
- He has revealed that he contemplated suicide to end his pain and worry
England sevens star Sam Stanley has become the first professional rugby union player to come out as gay and has revealed he even contemplated suicide because he was worried that he wouldn’t be accepted in the macho world of the sport.
The 23-year-old, who has represented England at five tournaments and is the brother of Samoan international Michael Stanley, who will be playing in the World Cup, has kept his five-year relationship with partner Laurence a secret.
‘I was 10 or 11 when I realised I was different to my friends,’ Stanley told the Sunday Times. ‘I didn’t want to accept it, I felt that being different wasn’t right. I had a girlfriend and I was thinking that, like some people say, maybe it is just a phase.’
Stanley has spoken of the anguish he felt at not being able to discuss personal problems with family or close friends.
‘I was really happy with him but if there was a bad day I wouldn’t be able to share it with anyone else. One birthday we were going through a tough time and it was all really hard to take. It would have been nice to get things off my mind with someone else.’
Stanley recalls one moment when the though of ending all the pain and worry crossed his mind.
‘I was standing on a bridge about four or five years ago, overlooking a motorway in Essex,’ he explains. ‘However, looking back, the idea that I would jump was ridiculous but it was as if I was thinking that I could get rid of the pain in one go.
‘You are so worried about what people will think and I thought I couldn’t be a macho rugby player the way I was, and there was nothing else I wanted to do with my life.’
Stanley joined Aviva Premiership side Saracens in 2010 before joining the sevens circuit four years later and his decision to reveal his sexuality comes five years after former Wales international Gareth Thomas announced he was gay.
Earlier this month Keegan Hirst, a professional rugby league player for Batley Bulldogs announced that he was gay and Stanley has followed suit after receiving advice from 2003 World Cup winner Ben Cohen, whose Stand Up Foundation campaigns against bullying.
‘Ben is a great person to talk to. He gave me loads of great advice,’ Stanley said.
- England Sevens star: I’m gay | The Sunday Times
- Daily Mail – James Haskell tackles homophobia in sport with Gay Times magazine photo shoot ahead of the Rugby World Cup
- Daily Mail – Married rugby league player comes out as gay and becomes first openly homosexual player in the sport
- The Sunday Times – England Sevens star: I’m gay