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Video: English cricket player Steven Davies announces he is gay

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This is big news in the cricket world -- English wicketkeeper Steven Davies has announced he is gay, the first active cricket player to do so. From the London Telegraph:

Davies, who told his family he was gay five years ago and has enjoyed their complete support, said it was a huge relief to finally come clean and be honest with the wider public.

And he said he hoped his decision would help other young gay people to have the confidence to follow in his footsteps.

Davies, 24, came to the conclusion after being called up to play in the Ashes, an international event in Australia. He told the paper he dreaded international trips since he was forced to hide who he is from his teammates.

He said he received wonderful support from his teammates, especially fellow wicketkeeper Matt Prior and captain, Andrew Strauss, and now looks forward to getting on with, what he hopes will be, a long and successful career at the highest level.

What makes this coming out important is that Davies is only 24, at the beginning of his international career and considered a rising star. Cricket is huge in Britain and former nations that were part of the British Empire. We are seeing an athlete not yet in his prime coming out and he can be in the world stage as an openly gay athlete possibly for years.

It also shows the power of role models in coming out. Davies said that the decision by rugby's Gareth Thomas to come out had a big influence on him:

“Gareth Thomas’s story helped me. It just showed me it can be done. He was brave enough to stand up and say who he was. It was a very courageous thing to do, so if I can help anyone else like he helped me, then that would be great.”

Bob Ballard of the BBC sent me this great reaction from one of Davies' teammate:

Graeme Swann, Steve Davies' England teammate and ranked the number two bowler in the world has just tweeted this: Good on everyone showing support for Steve Davies. For those few opposed? maybe find a new rock to live under?

London Telegraph video: