Keegan Hirst: Rugby league's first openly gay player reflects on retirement

Rugby league player Keegan Hirst believes not much has changed for gay athletes since he publicly spoke about his sexuality five years ago.

Keegan, who announced he is gay in 2015, last week retired from the sport after 13 years as a professional.

He remains the first British professional rugby league player to come out as gay.

At 32, Keegan is starting a new chapter in his life, but feels many more still in sport should feel empowered to speak out.

The proof's in the pudding - there's not a lot of out professional gay athletes and there are professional gay athletes. I think it's a sign that things haven't changed as we'd like to or the environment isn't as welcoming as we'd like it to be. It's sad that in 2020 we live in hope rather than there's something practical and pragmatic in place.

Keegan Hirst

Keegan feels that although physically he can still play for a few more years, the desire to do so is not there anymore.

"I've played over 320-odd games. I've done a fair bit and crammed a bit in. I'm really pleased with what I've achieved in the game."

The former Wakefield Trinity, Batley Bulldogs and Dewsbury Rams forward has set up a personal training business - helping his community of clients around the world.

For me as a rugby player and a gay man, community is really important and having that sense of community really helps. It certainly helped me drive and succeed and I know that's important for other people when they don't feel like they've got that.

Keegan Hirst