Since coming out as gay last week, rugby player Keegan Hirst, 27, has been inundated with messages of support from all over the world and from celebrities including Emma Watson and Tom Daley, but there was one message in particular he could never have anticipated receiving – the one he got from music superstar Elton John.
Hirst, captain of The Batley Bulldogs and a married dad of two, received a call from a woman claiming to be Elton’s PA. Not surprisingly, he thought it was a joke, but it wasn’t. Instead, a while later, the star and sportsman chatted on the phone.
Hirst explained that the singer told him:
“I think you’re fabulous!”
During their talk, Elton added that it was good Hirst was breaking down barriers and stereotypes, as the sportsman recalled:
“I was a bit lost for words, but we had a good chat. He was really supportive. It was a bit surreal. It’s amazing that Sir Elton John took the time to do that. It’s incredible. He sent me an email afterwards saying to keep in touch and he said that he would follow my story. He was a really nice guy.”
Keegan’s mum found it hard when her son came out to her saying:
“I thought that not realising made me a bad mum. He felt he couldn’t tell me for all that time. That felt like a massive smack in the mouth. I struggled to get my head round it because Keegan doesn’t fit the stereotype of a gay man. It’s not just his size – it’s everything. He’s got a deep voice, he’s manly and he’s very much a man’s man.”
Hirst is now separated from his wife with whom he has a seven and a two year old. Wendy explained that, looking back, her son told her:
“‘When I married her, I honestly thought I was getting married for the rest of my life.’”
She also admits that it’s nice to see her son happier, adding:
“It’s like he was very grey and now he’s got colour. If he wanted to get married again to a man, I’d be fine with that, as long as he’s happy.”