Keegan Hirst, the first British rugby league player to come out as gay, says he has received nothing but support despite playing in a city where he said there were not any gay people. But others have been preoccupied the last day by a naked shot of Hirst and a teammate.
Hirst and Joe Chandler are two of the Batley Bulldogs to appear in the team's charity calendar, which was produced prior to his coming out last weekend. Let's just say both men are impressive physical specimens:
Keegan Hirst, left, and Joe Chandler pose for a Batley Bulldogs charity calendar ($14). Photo by Memory Mill Photography.
Hirst, 27, is separated from his wife and the father of two. He told the BBC that since he came out he has been overwhelmed by the support:
"There's not any gay people in Batley, not that I know of," he said. "I thought it would be a bit of a taboo, a bit of an issue, but it wasn't at all.
"There was nothing but support and well-wishers yesterday at the ground from fans, players, the club. And then social media's gone mad. It's really overwhelming and quite humbling.
"You expect a bit of stick [mocking] from fans, from players -- you get it whether you're gay or not -- but there wasn't any of that."
A manufacturer of rugby apparel has seen business boom since Hirst came out:
Doing a roaring trade in @KeeganHirst @BatleyRLFC shirts through our website this week. Wonder why?!— Ravensport (@RavensportUK) August 19, 2015
Hirst has already had an impact with one British man, who tweeted this:
@KeeganHirst Because of your brave story, I finally told my friends and family this morning that I am gay. Thank you for helping me :)— Daryl Summers (@darylsummers) August 17, 2015