Ireland captain Katie McCabe and a Leinster player Jack Dunne opening up about their sexuality is an overdue step towards progress, but progress nonetheless.
Leinster lock Jack Dunne announced he is bisexual in the media yesterday, although said he came out privately several years ago and assumed his Leinster teammates have known through word of mouth.
Ireland captain and Arsenal star McCabe openly announced her relationship with footballer Ruesha Littlejohn in 2019, saying the women’s game is more accepting of the LGBT community.
Speaking on Off The Ball’s The Sunday Paper Review, the Irish Times' Gavin Cummiskey said Dunne he was impressed by how Dunne handled the situation and said him coming out as Ireland’s first bisexual male rugby player will have an unquantifiable impact on young sportspeople.
“It takes an enormous amount of courage, and I’m just so impressed by him. Not many people know about this guy...he’s 22-years old, he’s going to be a theoretical physicist if he wants to; this kid is way beyond rugby.”
Cummiskey, who interviewed Katie McCabe last year, said she was overwhelmed with messages from teenagers thanking her for giving them the courage to come out themselves.
“She spoke for about ten minutes about the influence she had. The texts, the messages on Instagram that she got from teenage girls and boys who said, ‘what you’ve done as the Ireland captain saying ‘I am this sexuality’ has given me the courage to tell my best friend or my Mum.’
“That’s what Jack Dunne has done this weekend. Not in a big fanfare or anything like that.
"Rugby players from middle-class backgrounds who are gay, and there are thousands of them in Ireland; they can now turn around and say, ‘I might tell my coach, I might tell my sister’”.
“What Katie [McCabe] done last year and what Jack [Dunne] done this weekend, I’m not exaggerating; this will save lives.”
Ireland team captain & Arsenal WSL champion Katie McCabe flying the flag, in our national football stadium lit up in rainbow colours... I may never get over this photo, TBH. Imagine being a sports-mad queer teenager and seeing it. Stunning. #Pride pic.twitter.com/hmLsDIdINl
— Elaine Buckley (@ElaineBucko) June 4, 2019
Tommy Martin, who also joined The Sunday Paper Review, said recalling Gareth Thomas' struggle with his sexuality has shown how far the sport has come in such a short period.
“I remember reading Gareth Thomas’ autobiography; it still stays with me, the sheer rage that was within him and hell that he went through from what he suppressed for so long, and where he went to himself before he had the courage to come out and change the course of his life.”