A professional rugby player from Ireland has come out to the public as gay.
Nick McCarthy is a player for the Leinster team in Ireland. In a recent interview published through the team’s official website, McCarthy came out as a gay and thanked his teammates and coaches for their support.
“I spoke to Leo (Cullen) and Stuart (Lancaster) last November, and the support that I got from them straight away was unbelievable,” McCarthy said of his coaches. “They helped and guided me over the months that followed so that I felt more comfortable to come out to the group.”
But McCarthy’s journey toward coming out publicly started a few months before that. Around this time last year, the athlete decided to come out to his close friends.
“Those conversations continued as I became more comfortable and accepting of myself,” he noted.
Then when McCarthy came out to his teammates, he was immediately met with support.
“I only made a quick announcement,” McCarthy explained. “But I just remember the room erupting! They were all delighted for me and it was immediately a weight off my shoulders.”
In fact, fellow Leinster player Johnny Sexton spoke to The Irish Times about how thrilled he was for his teammate.
“I’ve known Nick since his time in the academy so to hear him talk to us so openly about his struggles has been tough but we are now just delighted for Nick and that he can be himself,” Sexton said. “We talk about looking after our brothers a lot in here and the last few months has been about that, looking out for Nick. And that will continue. By speaking openly about his sexuality, Nick will be a role model for others and we couldn’t be prouder of him.”
Leinster head coach Leo Cullen also expressed words of support for Nick McCarthy.
“Nick told us a while ago and the main thing when I talked to him first, was that it was great that he was able to talk openly to us,” Cullen remarked. “Nick is a brilliant individual and we are supportive of him. That’s the most important bit for me. We want to make sure that all our guys are able to maximise their ability and be able to bring all of themselves to Leinster while they are here.
Cullen then added, “To be at your best you need to make sure you are working hard but also it’s about being yourself and it’s important you’re not battling against being yourself. So doing what’s in your heart, I guess, so we are pleased that Nick has been able to come out with this news so he can start being more comfortable just being himself.”
As for why he decided to come out at all, McCarthy said it was because he wasn’t being true to himself.
“In many other professions you may not feel the need to discuss your sexuality,” Nick McCarthy reasoned. “Leinster Rugby is built on ‘brotherhood’ and it’s important that we can be open and honest with each other. We spend so much time together, and I now feel very comfortable in this environment being myself.”
McCarthy also acknowledged the impact of seeing other pro athletes come out publicly.
“Looking at Carl Nassib or Josh Cavallo coming out and Jack Dunne here in Leinster and how he spoke publicly last year about his bisexuality, has helped me a lot,” McCarthy noted. “I’ve had good conversations with each of them and they’ve been hugely encouraging. In turn, I feel if I can now help others come out in professional sport or in their everyday lives and make being gay more normal and not a thing to be worried about, then that is a positive.”