New Zealand rugby pro Campbell Johnstone has become the first All Blacks player to come out as gay.
The 43-year-old prop, who played three Tests in 2005, revealed he had already told his family and close friends before coming out on TVNZ network’s One News channel.
“If I can be the first All Black that comes out as gay and take away the pressure, I guess, the stigma surrounding that whole issue then it can actually help other people,” Johnstone told the network.
“Then the public will know that there is one in amongst the All Blacks,” he said.
“It could possibly be one of the final pieces in the public puzzle for New Zealand sports-wise and it could be a very vital piece that just gives everyone closure.”
Bloody legend Campbell Johnstone!
“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.” pic.twitter.com/pjmnb7bL5K
— Shaneel Lal 🧚🏻 (They/Them) (@shaneellall) January 30, 2023
Johnstone shared his reasons for not being open about being gay earlier in his career.
“Within myself, I was never comfortable with the whole concept and my dream was to be an All Black.
“My view of an All Black was manly, strong, possibly with a wife and kids,” he said.
Coming out to his family, which he had done some time earlier, was much simpler for the athlete:
“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.”
The All Blacks congratulated Campbell on Twitter, referencing his national team player number 1056.
“Much love and support for All Black #1056 Campbell Johnstone for having the courage to share his story and helping create a more inclusive game,” it said.
Arohanui Campbell Johnstone All Black #1056 – your strength and visibility will pave the way for others in sport here in Aotearoa and around the world 🖤🏉🌈 pic.twitter.com/LcEQsp2e1y
— New Zealand Rugby (@NZRugby) January 30, 2023
“On behalf of the New Zealand rugby community and as a former teammate, I want to acknowledge and support Campbell for sharing his authentic story,” said New Zealand Rugby chief executive Mark Robinson.
“We know that there are people who have not always been comfortable to be who they are in rugby. We want to be clear, no matter who you love, rugby has your back,” he said in a statement.
Much love and support for All Black #1056 Campbell Johnstone for having the courage to share his story and helping create a more inclusive game. 🌈 pic.twitter.com/z9rjOKl1rn
— All Blacks (@AllBlacks) January 30, 2023