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Sam Stanley first English professional rugby union player to come out as gay

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The 23-year-old former Saracens back has played in five Sevens World Series tournaments for England

Sam Stanley is the first English rugby union player to come out as gay Photo- GETTY IMAGES

Sam Stanley is the first English rugby union player to come out as gay Photo: GETTY IMAGES

 

The 23-year-old former Saracens back played in five Sevens World Series tournaments for England and belongs to one of the sport’s most famous families.

He is the nephew of New Zealand’s 1987 World Cup-winning centre Joe Stanley, while his brother Mike is in Samoa’s squad for the upcoming World Cup and cousins Winston and Benson are on the books of Harlequins and Clermont Auvergne, respectively.

Sam Stanley, who is playing for Ealing Trailfinders in the Championship this season, said in the Sunday Times: “I was 10 or 11 when I realised I was different to my friends.

“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 a phase.”

Stanley’s decision to make his sexuality public comes after Batley Bulldogs prop Keegan Hirst last month became the first rugby league player to openly come out as gay.

Cross-code international Gareth Thomas was previously the only openly homosexual rugby player after he came out whilst playing for rugby union side Cardiff Blues in 2009.

Gareth Thomas was initially reluctant to see his life turned into a playGiving it a try: Gareth Thomas was initially reluctant to see his life turned into a play  Photo: Dan Wilton 2012

Thomas, who captained Wales and the British and Irish Lions, went on to play for league side Crusaders before retiring, but Hirst was the first player to come out publicly whilst playing the 13-man game.

Also, leading referee Nigel Owens, who is due to officiate at the 2015 Rugby World Cup, came out in 2007.

Stanley added: “Millions of people are in the situation, even people who have been in Laurence’s (his partner) situation and they are still married but are gay. They cannot accept it themselves.

“It is going to be an issue until more people and athletes come out, until it is not an issue at all. It might take years but hopefully lots of people will find the courage.”

Further Reading:

The Daily Telegraph (original post)

 

 

Sam Stanley comes out!

Mail Online LogoBy NICHOLAS GODDEN FOR MAILONLINE

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.’

Former Saracens player Sam Stanley has become the first union player to come out as gay

Former Saracens player Sam Stanley has become the first union player to come out as gay

Stanley (right) of England in action in the match against Scotland during the Tokyo Sevens last year

Stanley (right) of England in action in the match against Scotland during the Tokyo Sevens last year

 

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.’

Rugby league player Keegan Hirst, who plays for Batley Bulldogs, came out as gay earlier this month

Rugby league player Keegan Hirst, who plays for Batley Bulldogs, came out as gay earlier this month

 

Former Wales international captain Gareth Thomas announced he was gay

Former Wales international captain Gareth Thomas announced he was gay

 

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.

 
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