Poppy is the pseudonym of a closeted pro rugby player in South Africa and the latest example of jocks who are using blogs to share what they otherwise keep private.
He calls his blog "Closet Rugby Guy. " His reasons for blogging are pretty straightforward, he told me in an e-mail:
Firstly I wanted to talk about what it's like being in the closet. Some of us guys are for want of a better word "stuck" in the closet. We know that we're not gonna come out anytime soon and we've resigned to the fact that we're just gonna have to hang in there till its safe to come out. I don't think people talk about it enough. I also think a lot of people judge us especially people who are already out. Secondly I just wanted to talk to people like me - not necessarily sportsmen.
The only personal info I know about Poppy is that he is 24, lives in Durban (on South Africa's east coast) and plays in a provincial rugby league. I have no idea what this level of rugby would translate to in the U.S.
Poppy's writing is very introspective and he has a real longing to be romantically involved with a man (he told me has only had sex with two men). This longing shines through, even as he has made the bargain to stay closeted while still an active athlete. He wrote this in November:
It's been close to 11 months since i had sex with a guy. Honestly its was one of the worst experiences of my life. It was a Internet hook-up and it was the dumbest thing I've ever done. ... It's the f***ing closet that makes us do this type of shit. It puts us in a corner where you're so desperate to just be touched by another person that you take risks that in any other circumstances would seem stupid. I can tell you that I'm never doing it again. Next time I have sex it's gonna be when I'm out of the closet.
Poppy discusses a wide range of subjects, including steroids (he is reluctant to use them even though they might aid his career), religion ("I'm not sure I believe in the whole Christian story anymore. I'm not sure if I'm anti because it's what I believe or because I'm just so over being gay-bashed by the church that that part of my heart has dried up"), his unrequited longings for straight friends, breaking up with a girl but not being able to tell her the real reason and his constant frustrations with being in the closet.
"There's horny and then there's that longing need to be touched. That insatiable desire to hold another man. A hug. A hand hold. I'm not depressed I'm just over it. Over the shit that clouds my day. Over the meaningless hetero-leaning banter between mates. Over not having a connection that's real."
One blog post dealt with Poppy having quickie sex with girl who hit on him. It fulfilled a physical need but left him wanting. "I don't think I could ever be this casual with a guy. I'd want that something more. I'd wanna spoon afterwards. Spooning equals you hit the jackpot."
He also discusses a friend, whose father killed himself, and how it resonated with him:
Sometimes I think that the only people that understand suicide are the ones that have hit rock bottom. I have. Three years ago I had a went through a rough patch. For a period of about two weeks I was severely depressed. Not under the weather. Not sad. It was rock bottom, I don't know how to live anymore depressed. I was fairly high functioning so I don't think anyone noticed. In my spare time I lay in bed listening to depressing music. I just kept on thinking how useless I was. How there was no point to living. All the usual shit. I hardly remember it now but on one of the days I was so down that I thought about killing myself. A whole afternoon of it.
Obviously I didn't kill myself. I'm not really sure why. One day I just started feeling better. Then everyday it got better little by little. Of course I have my off days now and then but I think that's pretty normal.
At Outsports, our ideal is to write about out and proud jocks, but that's not the world we live in. This is why I think blogs like Poppy's help shed light on how closeted jocks cope with living double lives. It's obvious that Poppy thinks a lot about his predicament and he writes about it well. He is also aware it is ultimately his choice to stay closeted. He is an adult and for now is choosing the sport he loves over meeting a man he could love. This is a decision made by jocks worldwide, and having a blog at least gives Poppy a chance to talk about his feelings and connect with others in the same situation.