NRL forward urges other pro athletes to come out.
Australia’s first openly gay pro-athlete Ian Roberts said now is the time for others to make the step, citing the amount of support given to NBA veteran Jason Collins.
Collins broke ground himself this week by being the first active gay athlete from any major code in America.
As a result Collins has received widespread praise for his courage from those in the basketball world and further afield, including Roberts.
“The general population in the US has been waiting for this to happen for such a long time,” Roberts said.
“It surprised me it has taken so long. Gareth Thomas (the former Welsh rugby union and league player) came out a couple of years ago. I think that was the first since I came out in 1995.
“It has been a long time between drinks. I have 14 nephews and they are OK with the gay thing.”
Roberts, who was one of the hard men of the game when he came out, having represented New South Wales and Australia, said he was surprised it had taken an American athlete to long to come out.
The former Manly and Rabbitohs forward said he made the decision to free himself of feelinng trapped by the truth, despite gaining support from the clubs he was with at the time.
“For me, I didn’t see it as being a problem. It has never been a problem,” Roberts said.
“Everyone at Manly knew I was gay and everyone at Souths did too. It was a badly kept secret.
“After I came ‘out’ I wished I had never been ‘in’.
“It was like a huge weight coming off my shoulders. It was then I just wanted to get on with playing footy.”