Jed Hooper, rugby player and Old Redcliffians captain, has become the first Combination player to publicly announce that he is gay.
Hooper, twenty-two years old, came out to family and friends earlier this year, but is now speaking openly about his experience in the hopes of helping other young rugby players come to terms with their sexuality.
"I met someone earlier this year who said he could not be with someone who was in the closet. That, basically, was the catalyst that I needed. Before that, I think I had already told about ten friends and their reaction was very positive so that gave me an inkling of what might happen. And I also thought if the crap really hits the fan then at least there are ten people on my side!"
Even with that knowledge, though, Hooper still agonised over what he knew he had to do.
"I was never going to do it bit by bit, that would have been too drawn out, so I decided to text everyone and also put it on Facebook. I was horribly nervous. I wrote and rewrote the text four or five times, and I had my finger on the 'send' button for ages before I finally pushed it.
The text basically said something along the lines that 'I've been hiding it and fighting it for too long, and I can't hide any more. If you can accept me this way then great ... and if you can't then I don't need you and you can get lost!'
I then cried my eyes out as I was thinking to myself 'what have you done?, but very quickly I must have had 40 replies and all of them were positive."
Hooper instantly felt that wave of relief that nearly all gay men and women feel when they come out.
"A massive weight came off my shoulders. If I couldn't accept myself the way I am, how could I expect my friends to? No punches were pulled with questions from the rugby lads, that's for sure. I can't repeat some of the things I was asked, but I've always been someone who has been at the centre of any banter flying around, and the only thing that's changed is the type of banter."
Welcome out, Jed.
And please accept, as our gifts from HOMO HQ, your personal copy of The Gay Agenda, and the obligatory Coming Out Toaster Oven.
Glad you could join us.