Friday 26 December 2014

13 gay sporting stars who took the decision to go public

Published 08/01/2014 | 15:05

3 August 2013; Donal Og Cusack, Cork, in action during the M. Donnelly All Ireland Poc Fada Finals 2013. Picture credit: Paul Mohan / SPORTSFILE
Donal Og Cusack, Cork, in action during the M. Donnelly All Ireland Poc Fada Finals 2013. Annaverna Mountain, Ravensdale, Cooley, Co. Louth. Picture credit: Paul Mohan / SPORTSFILE
Donal Og Cusack answers questions at a GPA event last year.

University of Missouri defensive linesman Michael Sam has confirmed his is gay ahead of the NFL Draft and will become the first openly gay NFL star ever if he drafted.

"I came to tell the world that I'm an openly, proud gay man," Sam said today in interviews with ESPN's "Outside the Lines" and the New York Times.

Here, We take a look at other gay sports stars who took the decision to go public.

Donal Og Cusack (hurling)

The much-decorated Rebel star is one of the greatest goalkeepers the game of hurling has ever seen. He became the first elite Irish sportsman to reveal he was gay in his autobiography, 'Come What May', released last year. "Whatever you may feel about me or who I am, I've always been at peace with it," he wrote.

Conor Cusack (hurling)

The Cloyne hurler who last year bravely spoke out about his battle with depression joined his brother Donal Og Cusack in revealing that he is gay last month. He continues to highlight mental health issues.

Casey Stoney (football)

England women's football captain said sh decided to speak publicly about being gay after the positive reaction to diver Tom Daley saying he was in a relationship with a man. Stoney, who has 116 caps for England, is now the most high-profile active gay footballer in England.

Thomas Hitzlsperger (football)

The 31-year-old, capped more than 50 times for Germany, announced he was gay last month, the first high-profile German player to do so and the first to have played regularly in the English Premier League. The former Aston Villa midfielder was advised by freinds to keep his sexuality quiet but was astounded by the positive reaction to his revelation.

Justin Fashanu (football)

Britain's first black footballer to command a £1million transfer fee was also the first top-flight player to publicly admit his homosexuality. He came out in 1990 - in the dressing room his sexuality was less of a secret, and a clash of personalities with Nottingham Forest manager Brian Clough contributed to his decline. After admitting he was gay, Fashanu struggled to reignite an already stuttering career, and retired in 1997, blaming his downfall on prejudice in the English game. He committed suicide in May 1998 aged 37.

Greg Louganis (diving)

The American won a silver medal at the 1976 Olympic Games and followed that with a brace of golds in 1984 and 1988. Louganis' autobiography, which spent five weeks at number one on the New York Times best-seller list on its release in 1995, detailed his rise to global prominence and subsequent decision to come out as a homosexual living with HIV.

Martina Navratilova (tennis)

The Czech-born nine-time Wimbledon champion came out publicly as gay in 1981, a short time after she was granted US citizenship. The decision hit her sponsorship revenues. "Prior to being a [US] citizen, I couldn't speak my mind about being gay," she said. "But since then I have pretty much said what I think, which has cost me dearly in endorsements."

John Amaechi (basketball)

The American-born Briton was the first NBA player to openly admit to being gay in 2007. The 6ft 10in star used his autobiography, Man In The Middle, to make public his sexuality, and admitted afterwards the reaction from the public had been encouraging, saying: "I can't say there hasn't been any negative reaction at all, because there has. But I've been wildly overwhelmed by the positives."

Gareth Thomas (rugby union)

Thomas, who was Wales' most-capped player and a former British and Irish Lions captain, publicly announced he was gay in December 2009 at the age of 35. He said: "I just want to thank everyone for the amazing response I have received, on behalf of me, my family and friends. I hope that by saying this I can make a big difference to others in my situation. But for now, I just want to focus on being a rugby player."

Steven Davies (cricket)

The England and Surrey wicketkeeper became the first active professional cricketer to openly admit to being gay in February 2011. Davies, whose friends and family had known for five years and who had told his England team-mates the previous year, told The Sun: "I'm comfortable with who I am - and happy to say who I am in public. To speak out is a massive relief for me, but if I can just help one person to deal with their sexuality then that's all I care about." Davies, now 27, has played eight one-day internationals and five Twenty20 internationals for England.

Robbie Rogers (soccer)

Former Leeds winger and United States international Rogers revealed he was gay in February 2013 and at the same time announced his retirement from football at the age of 25. He wrote on his blog that he had been afraid of revealing his sexuality, adding: "Now is my time to step away. It's time to discover myself away from football." Four months after his announcement Rogers resumed his playing career by signing for the Los Angeles Galaxy.

Tom Daley (diving)

Daley, who won bronze in the men's 10 metre platform competition at the London 2012 Olympics, revealed in December 2013 that he was in a relationship with a man. The 19-year-old made the announcement in a self-made Youtube clip, saying: "Come spring this year my life changed massively when I met someone and they made me feel so happy, so safe and everything just feels great - and that someone is a guy. Of course I still fancy girls but right now I'm dating a guy and I couldn't be happier."

Nicola Adams (boxing)

Olympic boxing gold medallist Nicola Adams topped the Independent's annual 'Pink List' poll of influential lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people in November 2012.

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