Nigel Owens becomes the 1st openly gay rugby World Cup referee

Dylan Vox | May 23, 2007

Nigel Owens
LONDON — The Rugby World Cup announced its referee staff and the only Welshman in the group is Nigel Owens of Pontyberem, South Wales. That tidbit of information may be interesting enough, but Owens also happens to be the only out, gay man in the sport as well.

The 35-year old made his international debut in Japan in 2005, struggled with the decision to tell people about his sexuality because he was afraid of the reception he would have received from other players and fans.

"It's such a big taboo to be gay in my line of work, I had to think very hard about it because I didn't want to jeopardize my career," Owens told Gay.com "Coming out was very difficult and I tried to live with who I really was for years."

As a player Owen had difficulty in his sport because there were no role models and in fact he is the only gay player that he knows of. He even at one point contemplated suicide.

"I started to think there may only be one way out – but I am who I am and I knew I couldn't go on anymore being unhappy and keeping the truth hidden."

Eventually he decided to come out and actually sent a text message to everyone other than his family and boss to inform them of his decision, and the news came upon supportive ears. Owen says that most of the reaction has been very positive and is now happy with his decision.

"I might get someone shout something about me being a 'bent ref', but they usually realize what they've said and go, 'Oh, sorry Nige, didn't mean it like that'."

Tickets go on sale this week for championship matches which will be held later this year in France. – Issued by Gay Link Content

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