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Sunday, February 27, 2011

The England wicketkeeper Steven Davies has announced he is gay – becoming the first serving professional cricketer to publicly out himself.

By Martin Evans -

The 24-year-old Surrey player said he had decided to make the announcement after months of personal conflict.
In a frank and moving interview with Monday’s Daily Telegraph, Davies, who started his professional cricketing career with Worcestershire when he was 18, said he could no longer bear to lie about his sexuality.
Davies, who told his family he was gay five years ago and has enjoyed their complete support, said it was a huge relief to finally come clean and be honest with the wider public.
"I'm comfortable with who I am - and happy to say who I am in public," Davies said.
And he said he hoped his decision would help other young gay people to have the confidence to follow in his footsteps.
He explained: “This is the right time for me…I feel it is right to be out in the open about my sexuality. If more people do it, the more acceptable it will become. That must be a good thing.
"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."
A former England under-19 captain, Davies, who made his international debut in 2009 during the Twenty20 in Trinidad, is widely tipped as a future star of the game.
But he admitted hiding his sexuality has affected his relationships in the dressing room.
He said he dreaded long international tours because he was forced to conceal an important part of his life from his team-mates.
Davies decided to confide in his England colleagues after being called up for the recent Ashes tour to Australia.
He said he received wonderful support from his team-mates, especially fellow wicketkeeper Matt Prior and captain, Andrew Strauss, and now looks forward to getting on with, what he hopes will be, a long and successful career at the highest level.
Davies’s decision to out himself comes two years after Welsh rugby hero Gareth Thomas also went public about his homosexuality.
The 36 year-old, who is currently playing for the Crusaders in Europe’s Super League, has voiced his support for Davies and said he admired his courage.
He said: “I am really happy for Steven and pleased that he has had the strength and courage to be able to come out and be open and honest about who he is, and to see that he has the support of his family and team-mates in doing it, like I did.
“I know how hard it is to be honest about something like this when you are in the public eye, and for him to be able to come out and talk about it at his age is refreshing and hopefully like when I came out, will encourage and inspire others to feel they can do the same. I hope that this will be just the start from him.”
Davies admitted he had been partly inspired by Thomas’s bravery in going public about his own sexuality.
He said: “Gareth Thomas’s story helped me. It just showed me it can be done. He was brave enough to stand up and say who he was. It was a very courageous thing to do, so if I can help anyone else like he helped me, then that would be great.”
The world of professional sport remains hugely under-represented in terms of the numbers of openly gay people.
But campaigners hope the more who find the courage to come forward, the less of a stigma it will be for those struggling to deal with the issue.
While Thomas’s announcement, set against the backdrop of the intensely macho game of rugby, drew widespread admiration, he was coming towards the end of his career.
Davies’s decision to go public at such an early stage in his professional life, is seen as hugely significant in breaking down taboos surrounding homosexuality in professional sport.
The Sussex bowler Alan Hansford, who played first class cricket between 1989 and 1992, is thought to be the only other openly gay player, but he did not go public about his sexuality until after his retirement.


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