A young English cricket player has come out as gay at the beginning of his career.
Jonny Gascoigne, 22 from Manchester, has said while he hasn’t ‘fully come to terms’ with being gay he is ready to take the brave step in being an openly LGBTI athlete.
The first English professional cricket player to reveal his sexuality was Steven Davies, in 2011, who said he came out in the hopes it would make it easier for others to be open about their sexuality.
In an open essay for Out Sports, the young batter and baller felt like he spent 10 years unable to ‘utter the words’ that he was gay to himself until he was on a skiing holiday in a French resort two and a half years ago.
‘This was the night I realised I could no longer hide from who I was, I could no longer lie to myself and I had to start addressing the issue,’ he said.
Gascoigne said when he first started feeling interested in guys, he was ‘shocked’ as he didn’t match the description of what a gay guy was and is so he kept assuming that liking boys was a phase that he would get over quickly.
Cricket, while known for being gentile and as English as it can get, also involves sledging.
As Gascoigne describes it, it’s a way of getting under the batsman’s skin by trying to talk him out by insulting him or playing mind games with him.
‘Now as a young cricketer trying to make my way in senior teams the thought of being sledged scared me, the thought of other teams knowing my sexuality and using it against me terrified me so I carried on in a status quo of playing cricket, avoiding questions about girls and generally trying to keep a low profile in and around the dressing room,’ he said.
But then the skiing holiday came, and he couldn’t hide it any more. He met a holiday rep, who he didn’t realise was gay, who he liked immediately.
‘After several beers and shots of whiskey it was time to call it a night as we walked back towards our apartments, suddenly he turned and kissed me,’ he wrote. ‘I was totally taken aback. I was petrified but excited at the same time; it just felt totally right.’
Coming back to Manchester, he was still closeted. He went on dates on Tinder, and even found a boyfriend. The only problem was that he kept his new love secret because he was terrified of telling his family, friends and teammates about his sexuality.
February 2015 came, he came out to his family the day his boyfriend split up with him.
‘The stresses of lying to him and to my friends had become too much and caused us to break up he was understandably fed up of being a secret in my life and a constant source of anguish for me. I couldn’t blame him but it hurt,’ he said.
‘Telling the lads at cricket was more of a relaxed affair albeit again pretty nerve-racking. A lot of the lads often used words like “fag” or “gay” in a derogatory manner so I wasn’t totally sure, with the exception of a couple of lads who were good friends, how they would accept the news.’
But it turns out they all took it in their stride, and he was ‘relieved’, and he ‘walked onto the pitch with the same lads after that knowing that they had [his] back’.
‘I have had nothing but support from my friends, my family, my teammates even opposition players and I am grateful for their support,’ he said.