Cricketer James Faulkner of Australia found himself in the unusual position on Monday of having to post on Instagram the words: “I am not gay.”

It started with a happy post earlier in the day, in which Faulkner shared a picture of his 29th birthday dinner with his mother and Rob Jubb — who he identified as “the boyfriend.” Oh, and he added the hashtag #togetherfor5years, which only gave further credence to the idea that they were a same-sex couple and that this was his “coming out” post.

Reaction poured in, not just down under but from around the world: nearly 12K likes, more than 350 comments, including one from fellow cricketer Glenn Maxwell: “Happy birthday mate! Great courage,” and he added an emoji of “clapping hands.”

“Great courage mate, bet u feel better,” added Former Australian Test fast bowler Shaun Tait.

And of course, there were a spate of hateful comments, too, drowned out by a wave of supportive, affirming messages, like this one from @Dazzlingpalls:

”Truly sorry on behalf of all the homophobes here. Don’t pay any attention to them! Take care! Have a beautiful life.” They added the hashtag #LoveIsLove.

As the Sydney Morning Herald reported, only one international cricketer has ever come out as an active player: England’s Steven Davies in 2011.

So the prospect of telling the story of yet another athlete owning his truth, the international news media jumped at the chance. Except this time, it turns out that leap was unwarranted.

By late Monday, Cricket Australia told reporters Faulkner’s Instagram post had been “misinterpreted.”

Then Faulkner himself set the record straight, so to speak, with a new post clarifying that Rob Jubb is “just a great friend.”

“There seems to be a misunderstanding about my post from last night, I am not gay, however it has been fantastic to see the support from and for the LBGT community. Let’s never forget love is love, however @robjubbsta is just a great friend. Last night marked five years of being house mates! Good on everyone for being so supportive.”

As questions circulated on social media about what to believe, and whether this was all a joke, Cricket Australia issued this statement:

”His comment was made as a genuine reflection of his relationship with his business partner, best friend and housemate of five years. He was not contacted for clarification before some outlets reported his Instagram post as an announcement of a homosexual relationship.

”James and CA are supportive of the LGBQTI community and recognise coming out can be an incredibly emotional time. The post was not in any way meant to make light of this and, though the support from the community was overwhelming and positive, Cricket Australia apologizes for any unintended offense.”

According to the Sydney Morning Herald, Faulkner was named “man of the match” at the most recent cricket World Cup final, and has been referring to his long-time friend Jubb as his “boyfriend” for years.

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