Nick McCarthy during a Leinster Rugby captain's run at Loftus Versfeld Stadium in Pretoria, South Africa. | Harry Murphy/Sportsfile via Getty Images

Nick McCarthy, a professional rugby player for Leinster in Ireland, has come out publicly as gay.

In an interview with his team’s website, McCarthy said he considered leaving the sport as he didn’t think he could come out publicly and play professional rugby. When he talked with a couple of coaches last year, the support they showed him opened his eyes to the true state of widespread acceptance of gay athletes in sports.

“The support that I got from them straight away was unbelievable,” McCarthy said. “They helped and guided me over the months that followed so that I felt more comfortable to come out to the group.”

The reaction from everyone around him has been positive, he said, which has opened his eyes to the reality of having teammates and people knowing you.

“My experience, since coming out though has been entirely positive. I have realized that anyone who cares about you, just wants you to be happy.”

McCarthy in part found the strength to come out publicly talking with some athletes who have found their ways publicly out of the closet.

“Looking at Carl Nassib (American Football player) or Josh Cavallo (Australian soccer player) coming out and Jack Dunne here in Leinster and how he spoke publicly last year about his bisexuality, has helped me a lot,” he said. “I’ve had good conversations with each of them and they’ve been hugely encouraging.”

McCarthy has played professional rugby since 2015, representing Ireland on the national stage when he was younger.

He is just the latest active professional athlete to come out in men’s pro sports and find widespread acceptance. And more will follow him, as courage is contagious.