Former New Zealand prop Johnstone becomes first openly gay All Black

By Sports Desk January 30, 2023

Campbell Johnstone hopes that coming out as gay will help others within New Zealand's sporting community.

Johnstone, who played three times for the All Blacks, including in a Test series against the British and Irish Lions in 2005, confirmed he was gay on a current affairs television programme on Monday.

He is the first openly gay player to have been involved within the All Blacks set-up. 

"If I open up that door and magically make that closet disappear, then we're going to help a lot of people," said Johnstone.

"I pushed that side of me down deeper and deeper. I went to some interesting places."

In an interview credited to TVNZ, Johnstone expressed his hope that him becoming the first All Black to come out might help others feel more comfortable in their own skin.

"If I can be the first All Black that comes out as gay and take away the pressure and the stigma that comes with that issue then it can actually help other people.

"Yes, it is [a big thing], to be able to do that could possibly be one of the final pieces of the puzzle for New Zealand sports."

The ex-Crusaders player also said he had been "living a lie".

New Zealand Rugby chief executive Mark Robinson, who played alongside Johnstone at Canterbury, commended his old team-mate's strength and courage.

"On behalf of the New Zealand rugby community and as a former team-mate, I want to acknowledge and support Campbell for sharing his authentic story. Your strength and visibility will pave the way for the others in our game," said Robinson.

"Rugby is a sport that is welcoming to everyone and a place where people should feel safe to be who they are.

"We know that there are people who have not always been comfortable to be who they are in rugby. We want to be clear, no matter who you love, rugby has your back."

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