More gay sports stars come out to the world
Earlier this month, retired footballer Thomas Hitzlsperger made the brave decision to come out. Joining sports stars such as Tom Daley, the former West Ham United player decided to open up about his sexuality in order to “further the debate about homosexuality among sports professionals”.
Conor Cusack discusses his sexuality
Closer to home, the former Cork hurler has opened up about being sexually attracted to men. In a blog post entitled ‘To thine own self be true’ he talks about previous relationships with women, but that he’s more fulfilled being with a man.
Conor’s brother, All-Ireland goalkeeper Donal Óg, came out several years ago and has since spoken about the bigotry he’s experienced in regular life as well as on the hurling pitch.
Sexuality and sport
Playing sport at any level is, for many of us, an enjoyable part of life.
Off-pitch banter can be great for getting through a rainy morning training session. But, when it comes to sexuality even the most light hearted jokes can be hard to hear.
Describing his experiences with premiership football, Hitzlsperger admitted “it was not always easy to sit on a table with 20 young men and listen to jokes about gays”. But, he said, “you let them get on with it as long as the jokes are somewhat funny and not too insulting.”
Coming to terms with your sexuality
Getting used to your sexuality can be challenging. Being open and honest about who you are is something many of us take for granted. For some though, it can be a daily battle.
Hitzlsperger described coming to terms with his sexuality as being a “long and difficult process…being gay is topic that is ignored in football”.
He said it’s “not a serious topic in the changing room. Fighting spirit, passion and a winning mentality are intrinsically linked…that doesn’t fit the cliché; gays are soft”.
More people like the Cusack brothers and Hitzlsperger coming out should go a long way to challenging some of the stereotypes people hold onto.
To think you’re hiding something can leave you feeling very isolated and alone. Its important to know that struggling with your sexuality is not unusual.
Never be ashamed of who you are
Hitzlsperger received a phenomenal amount of support after sharing his sexuality with the world. Team-mates, politicians and members of the public all praised his bravery.
The fear of sharing something as personal as your sexuality can be extremely daunting, but then being open about it can be liberating.
But in your own time…
Having said that, if you think you might be gay, come out in your own time and in your own way. Unfortunately some people don’t end up with a choice, but if you do, make sure you’re ready.
When talking about his decision to open up about his sexuality, Conor Cusack said he believes “nobody should have to talk publicly about…their sexuality if they don’t want to.”