Campbell Johnstone has become the first All Black in New Zealand’s history to come out as gay.
He made history when he opened up about his sexuality on TVNZ’s Seven Sharp on Monday evening.
“If I can be the first All Black that comes out as gay and take away the pressure and the stigma surrounding that whole issue, then it can actually help other people and then the public will know that there is one in amongst the All Blacks,” he said.
“To be able to do that could possibly be one of the final pieces in the puzzle for New Zealand sport...it could be a very vital piece that just gives everyone closure.”
He explained that he hoped that coming out would help to “open up that door and magically make that closet disappear”.
Johnstone played three tests for the All Blacks back in 2005 and revealed that he did confide in some teammates and family members about his sexuality during his time on the team.
He kept the matter private during his time playing, living a "double life" and a "lie" because his sexuality did not fit with his image of being an All-Black.
“Within myself, I was never really comfortable with the whole concept,” said Johnstone. “My dream was to be an All Black.”
"His vision of a player for the national side, he added, was someone who was “manly, strong … possibly had a wife, kids”, and he blamed his sexuality when he played poorly.
Johnstone has received a lot of praise for his brave decision online, with halfbacks Brad Weber and Aaron Smith showing support for their former teammate on Twitter.
New Zealand Rugby CEO Mark Robinson said Johnstone’s decision “will pave the way for others”.
“We want to be clear, no matter who you love, rugby has your back.”
Sports Minister and openly gay MP Grant Robertson shared his support for Johnstone on Instagram, calling it “a big moment”.
“I hope it inspires future generations to be open, happy, and comfortable. ” Robertson wrote.
We're sending all our love to Johnstone for making this remarkable step in history to share who he truly is and inspire others to do the same.
Watch his full interview on Seven Sharp below.