Rugby legend Campbell Johnstone becomes the first openly gay All Black after previously only revealing his sexuality to family and teammates
- Campbell Johnstone revealed he is gay on a New Zealand TV show on Monday
- The former prop played three Tests for the All Blacks in 2005
- Johnstone played over 100 games combined for Canterbury and the Crusaders
New Zealand rugby great Campbell Johnstone hopes to help young athletes accept their sexuality after becoming the first openly gay All Black.
All Black No.1056 when he made his debut against Fiji in 2005, Johnstone played three Tests for New Zealand and racked up 72 games for Canterbury and 38 for the Crusaders.
Having previously revealing his sexuality only to family and close friends, Johnstone said his decision to publicly announce news stemmed from a desire of destigmatising homosexuality and encourage acceptance in rugby.
Former Kiwi rugby star Campbell Johnstone is the first openly gay All Black player
‘If I can be the first All Black that comes out as gay and take away the pressure and stigma surrounding the issue it can actually help other people,’ he told TVNZ’s Seven Sharpe show on Monday night.
‘Then the public will know that there is one in amongst the All Blacks and it could be one of the final pieces in the puzzle sports-wise that gives everyone closure.
The tighthead prop, who also played over 100 games for French powerhouse Biarritz, admitted he struggled to accept himself as gay during his days as a rugby player.
‘Within myself, I was never comfortable with the whole concept and my dream was to be an All Black.
Johnson (left) played 38 times for the Crusaders and won three All Blacks caps in 2005
The former prop (middle) said he had kept his sexuality concealed from his teammates
‘My view of an All Black was manly, strong, possibly with a wife and kids.’
Johnstone, whose last Test for the All Blacks came against the British and Irish Lions, said his sexuality often led to serious self-doubts.
‘It would come to the surface when I may have had a bad game and I would look at that side of me and blame that side for it,’ he explained.
‘It slowly starts to affect you and it’s hard living a double life or living a lie.
The All Blacks praised Johnstone for having the courage to reveal his sexuality
‘We had a phrase in rugby saying after a game if you could look yourself in the mirror and be honest with yourself then you’ve done enough […] and here I was looking in the mirror having not been honest with my teammates.’
Eventually, he felt it was time for to open up to his family and close friends,
‘I did that a long time ago. It was pretty much like telling them I just ran out of milk, one of them was like: “Yeah it’s about time”.
‘Telling just close friends and rugby friends was enough for me at the time.’
Johnstone’s decision to go public comes less than six months after former Kiwi Test cricketer Heath Davis revealed he was gay.
The former All Blacks admitted he was disappointed with the time it took him to follow the same path.
‘There’s the other aspect that I’m maybe a little bit sad that we’re having to do this […] but if I open up that door and kind of magically make that closet disappear then we’re going to help a lot of people.’
In a post on social media, the All Blacks praised Johnstone for ‘having the courage to share his story and helping create a more inclusive game.’
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