Campbell Johnstone came out as openly gay for the first time on All Black in an interview with Seven Pointers. Video / seven sharp
When I came out, the people I was most anxious to tell were my teammates.
I had flirted with some of these women when we were teenagers but found myself avoiding the conversation. I
I never stopped pronouncing it, but my relationship will announce it to me.
One of my teammates asked me weeks later in an aftermatch why I hadn’t told him directly. There were a few reasons, but chief among them was that fear.
The stereotype, the abuse, all of us rugby players are lesbians. The word was objected to me as an insult on the ground of the playground with the children.
The only conceivable reason — in their minds — that a woman could participate in this contact in the game is to hold hands with her teammates. In speaking, more phantasms than things were assigned to their harmless lust.
I walk the street, admitting that I love the game, but I do not admit that I also love women. As a teenager, I could only stand one season.
Slowly, I will compare the parts of myself that are compartmentalized. I am ashamed of my labels, now I wear them with pride. Fully embracing the laziest of stereotypes, while still knowing my sexuality has little to do with my role in rugby.
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These connections, which some people are trying to draw between themselves, are therefore important to get out. That this may be true in some cases is nothing to be ashamed of. The things I like about my partner are many and varied, but in the end it would be pretty boring if I were to list them among my teammates. They certainly have nothing to do with our next lineout call or how I decide to hit the pull.
This experience has many examples on the part of the game. Lignarius-Wickliffe is now the only player on the pitch who can pass more than wide. One of the many spouses who played in the Black Ferns jersey. Portia also represented a queer member of the contingent at the Olympics.
and yet I was hardly afraid to go out. You will be afraid to remit the words which have been used in this place to hurt me. It was uncertain how they had land now, which I knew to be true.
There are rooms in life that we encounter with closed doors that we cannot open.
In this case, for many years in rugby, people felt that they were gay. Perhaps he knocked, but no one answered. Then there are those rooms with open doors, in which it is clear that it is not like us inside. We stand on the threshold and in this moment of time, the decision we make is not about exit, but about entry.
Campbell Johnstone has just entered that room and in doing so, is already a friendly face to all those still hovering over the threshold.
There are many who will look at this announcement with luxury and will see the same column in the same way. They ask, what is this to win and why do you bring this conversation in jest?
To them, I say, you have begun. When you called me a ditch or a lesbian, I wanted to play the game as a kid. For the word gay was used as an insult when someone slipped in the hay, or for the way he did his hair in the changing rooms.
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Because once we were afraid of who we really were, we will celebrate with pride at any opportunity.