Campbell Johnstone becomes first openly gay All Black

Publish Date
Tuesday, 31 January 2023, 9:56AM

Campbell Johnstone has become the first All Black to publicly come out as gay.

Johnstone, All Black #1056, played three tests in the black jersey in 2005, 72 times for Canterbury and 38 matches for the Crusaders between 2002-2008.

He spoke to TVNZ’s Seven Sharp programme about his decision to come out.

“If I can be the first All Black that comes out as gay and take away the pressure and the stigma surrounding the whole issue then it can actually help other people. Then the public will know that there is one in amongst the All Blacks,” he said.

“To be able to do that could possibly be one of the final pieces in the puzzle for New Zealand could be a very vital piece that just gives everyone closure.

Johnstone opened up about living “a double life” and “living a lie,” trying to portray the stereotypes of a rugby player.

“One of the main things was because, within myself, I was never really comfortable with the whole concept; and my dream was to be an All Black.

“Manly, strong, possibly had a wife and kids. I’d pushed that side of me down deeper and deeper; I’ve been to some interesting places with that. It would come to the surface and I may have had a bad game, and I would look at that side of me and blame that for it. It slowly starts to affect you. It’s hard living a double life, or living a lie.

“We had a phrase in rugby saying if you could look yourself in the mirror and be honest with yourself then you’ve done enough. Here I was looking in the mirror, haven’t been honest with my teammates; and that puts a lot of pressure on and just builds up on you,” he said.

“I pushed that side of me down deeper and deeper...I went to some interesting places.”

Johnstone, a prop, made his debut against Fiji and also played two tests against the British and Irish Lions.

“The private part of me wanted to keep that private. Telling close friends and rugby mates was enough for me.

“I’m very happy and comfortable about myself,” he told Seven Sharp.

The All Blacks shared support for Johnstone as the segment went to air, praising him for “having the courage to share his story and helping create a more inclusive game”.

New Zealand Rugby CEO Mark Robinson said Johnstone’s strength and visibility “will pave the way for others”.

“Rugby is a sport that is welcoming to everyone and a place where people should feel safe to be who they are,” he said.

Robinson said NZ Rugby knows there are people who have not always been comfortable to be who they are in rugby.

“We want to be clear, no matter who you love, rugby has your back.”

Sport Minister and openly gay MP Grant Robertson shared his support for Johnstone on Instagram, calling it “a big moment”.

This article was first published on the and was published here with permission



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