Call for gay All Black to out
Gay rights advocates in New Zealand have called for a homosexual All Blacks player to declare his sexuality and act as a role model in the fight against bigotry.
Broadcaster Steve Gray told the Sunday Star-Times that he was aware that there had been several gay All Blacks and that it was time for one to stand up and be counted.
The openly gay TV presenter said he had slept with one player but no member of the team has ever "come out" in the country in which rugby is a national passion.
"Everyone always asks what his name was but I can't remember. I don't know who the All Blacks are. But at the time I checked with a friend and it was true," he said.
His comments follow the appearance of English football star Matt Jarvis on the cover of British gay magazine Attitude.
Jarvis, who is straight, said it was time gay footballers felt comfortable enough to step forward and that they would receive support from the football community.
Tony Simpson, chairman of the gay rights group Rainbow Wellington, said he believed that if a homosexual All Black openly acknowledged his sexual orientation most New Zealanders would back him.
"If an All Black were to come out I think most people would just say 'Well, what does that have to do with the way he plays rugby?'
"Some people will be hostile - some have never reconciled themselves to decriminalisation of homosexuality and try to debate it every time it comes up - but most have got over it," he said.
Former All Blacks centre Craig Innes joined the call for a gay All Black to step forward, saying it would be good for the young gay community to have a rugby role model to look up to.
"I'd admire someone who had the guts to do something like that," he said. "It would take a brave person, but Ian Roberts, who is probably the toughest, meanest rugby league player, came out a few years ago and people hardly batted an eyelid." Roberts, an Australian, came out in 1995.