Good for Devin Ibañez!
To finish out a surprisingly great year for professional athletes coming out as LGBTQ, pro rugby player Devin Ibañez has not only come out but introduced the world to his boyfriend. Ibañez, who played with the New England Free Jacks in 2019 and soon hopes to play in England to be closer to his boyfriend, did so by writing a post on Facebook and Instagram.
Ibañez explained that he “decided to embrace what I once felt embarrassed of and be proudly and shamelessly myself.”
“As 2020 comes to a close everyone is looking ahead to 2021 and setting new goals,” he wrote. “This year it became increasingly difficult to find things I could take control of. Many things felt out of my control and it was hard not to feel helpless and at times hopeless. I took the time to reflect on my life and what aspects I could control and make positive changes to that would impact my day to day life and happiness.”
Devin Ibañez shared that he realized living with transparency would make life and love much easier. He then announced that he’s dating a man named Fergus Wade, an English medical student he met in 2017 while Wade was during research at Harvard studying sleep deprivation in fruit flies.
“I am openly gay,” he professed. “This is something that is not a secret to those close to me and even several people not close to me. But I always felt a need to keep it separate from my rugby career. I always came up with a reason why being more vocal would be a distraction, detrimental, or unnecessary. I told myself that if I achieved a certain level of success that I would use that platform to show proudly who I was in hopes of inspiring others to be true to themselves.”
“As the years went by no level of success was enough to justify potentially losing opportunities within the sport, jeopardizing relationships, or making myself a target on the pitch,” Ibañez continued. “The final goal became ‘Once I sign a pro contract I will be more vocal and become the first openly gay MLR player’. As the day came and went that I signed a contract with the @usmlr , I moved the goalposts even further. This was largely fueled by a narrative I told myself that unless I left no doubt about deserving my spot that I would be viewed as a token and not a true professional.”
He later added, “But what I considered as casting a shadow I’ve slowly realized can also act as a beacon. So I have decided to embrace what I once felt embarrassed of and be proudly and shamelessly myself. I have met some incredibly talented LGBTQ rugby players over the years, many of whom were blackballed from playing a high level solely due to being gay.”
“As of now I am the only openly gay rugby player to earn a contract with an MLR side,” Ibañez noted. “I hope that I will meet others Iike myself playing a high level of rugby and hoping to inspire the next generation of proud LGBTQ rugby players. So I will proudly call myself ‘that gay rugger’ in hopes that one day it won’t sound strange in men’s rugby.”
Since coming out, Devin Ibañez shared with OutSports that he’s received an overwhelming amount of support.
“I’ve even gotten some messages from players who played on the same teams as me who told me a bit about their own stories,” he said. “And that’s all I really want. Just to connect with those who had similar experiences and hopefully inspire those who are going through the same things.”
Thank you, Devin Ibañez. You’re creating space and visibility by simply being you out in the open. We are incredibly thankful for it!