Rugby league ace Keegan Hirst hopes Phillip Schofield coming out will make world more open

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Keegan Hirst hopes Phillip Schofield coming out as gay will help make the world a more inclusive place. Hirst, who currently plies his trade for Halifax in rugby league’s Championship, came out as gay himself in 2015.

The 31-year-old has opened up on the emotions the This Morning host will have gone through after Hirst experienced them himself before telling his ex-wife Sara, with whom he had two children.

Hirst believes, though, that Schofield will soon be in a much happier place and is hopeful the presenter’s decision to come out will open people’s eyes to needing to be more accepting.

Hirst said: “I send my love and support to Phillip. He’s a 57-year-old man. Isn’t it sad he has to wait until this point in his life where he has felt comfortable enough in himself, and with his surroundings, that he can finally come out?

“But he has 100 per cent done the right thing. It’s well documented I had suicidal thoughts before I came out. I thought that was the only way out.

“So do you take your own life? Sit and suffer? Or do you cause a bit of upset which isn’t enjoyable or nice for anybody, but in the long term is the right thing to do? It’s the best option.

“For me, things didn’t get easier straight away, but certainly things are much better now. Everybody is happier knowing the truth.

“The initial pulling the plaster off is painful in the short term. As human beings all we want is to belong, and that fear of being different and being pushed away is a horrible feeling. That’s why a lot of people are scared of coming out, and don’t come out.

“For me, it was coming out privately, to my nearest and dearest, that was the toughest bit. Once that is all done, the people who matter most are in the know, and telling some faceless strangers is by the by.

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“I told my wife a couple of months before I went public. That was the most difficult conversation I have had to have in my life.

“And the very hardest part of all is coming to terms with it yourself, being able to admit it to yourself. To vocalise the words ‘I am gay’ took me a very long time.

“That Phillip has come out now is so important, if only to shine a light on the fact that we need to make the world a more open and inclusive place.

“So that people don’t feel they have to conform, fit in a certain way, be a certain type of person. Phillip is probably, more so than me, a victim of his time.”

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