All Blacks: Ardie Savea commends first openly gay All Black Campbell Johnstone
Ardie Savea commended Campbell Johnstone’s courage to come out as the first openly gay All Black and believes a gay player would be welcome in the current set-up.
Johnstone made his announcement earlier this week and is hoping it widens perspectives and breaks boundaries in the game.
Savea described Johnstone’s announcement as “courageous” in a typically “hard-man” sport.
“It takes a lot of courage, especially in the rugby circles and how it’s been in the past; the old traditional hard-man. But seeing someone come out, it’s pretty courageous,” Savea told the New Zealand Herald.
“I know the doubts that would’ve been in his head, but he probably doesn’t realise how many people he’s helped internally with what he’s done, so big ups to him.”
Savea believes if a player in the current All Blacks set-up were to come out, they would be “accepted and loved”.
“I think in this society now a lot of people are accepting of that. For me, as a leader, our team is pretty open. We’re all about togetherness, regardless of if you’re Samoan or Pacific, if you’re gay or if you’re straight, you’re accepted and loved.
“My belief is you love everybody, regardless of who you are. I think in this day and age you’d get accepted. For guys that don’t, you could easily see and they’d get pulled up on that.”
Johnstone’s announcement has been widely praised and could change the future landscape of rugby in New Zealand and around the world.
Savea insists it is important for everyone to feel safe and accepted no matter life choices or orientations.
“It’s our job as communities to accept that and be able to accept anyone and everyone. It’s not just on those people to want to feel comfortable, it’s the space around to make them feel safe.”
Johnstone, speaking to TVNZ, believes his announcement will help reduce stigma and pave the way for current and future sportsmen to be comfortable with who they are.
“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,” Johnstone told TVNZ.
“To be able to do that could possibly be one of the final pieces in the puzzle for New Zealand sport … it could be a very vital piece that just gives everyone closure.
“If I open up that door and magically make that closet disappear, then we’re going to help a lot of people.”
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