Gay rugby star Sam Stanley gets engaged to partner of 7 years
Out gay professional rugby player Sam Stanley has announced his engagement to his partner of seven years.
In an Instagram post, the athlete wrote that his fiancé Laurence Hicks had pretended over the years to be related in order to avoid having to come out.
He wrote, alongside a photo of the two together: “After being a part of each others lives for almost 7 years, @lorenzo_uk has been my pretend godfather, uncle, cousin and many others in order to make sure no one found out about us and that we were a couple funny looking back after having come so far together. The most loving man I know and I’m incredibly happy to say we’re now engaged.”
Stanley came out as gay back in 2015 and since said that the rugby world have been supportive of him.
After announcing his engagement, he also shared another photo saying he and Hicks are moving to Sicily “for good”.
The former Saracens back – who is now a personal trainer – said at the time that he knew he was gay from a young age, when he came out.
He said: “I was 10 or 11 when I realised I was different to my friends.
“I didn’t want to accept it, I felt that being different wasn’t right. I had a girlfriend and I was thinking that, like some people say, maybe it is a phase.”
He has since opened up about the reaction he has received from fellow rugby professionals – praising the sport’s “open-minded” and “encouraging” approach to LGBT players.
“What I found especially is that rugby players are a lot more open minded than I thought,” he told QX.
“I messaged a load of my college mates who I trained with and they all replied with their support. And that meant a lot to me.
“They’re all just team mates but you see them as quite good friends as you see a lot of them.”
“I think the game is getting a lot better – it’s a lot better than imagined.”
Stanley – who likes to post naked photos of himself singing and playing a guitar – also praised fellow out player Keegan Hirst, who he credited as his inspiration.
“He had a huge influence on mine. I saw the reaction that he got and I was like ‘how encouraging is that’.
“But it took me a few weeks. I think I’ve been happy with myself for a while now.”
He also drew comparisons between his sport and football – which is now one of the few sports to have no actively, out gay players.
“Football stadiums – having been to games in the past – they can be hostile environments.
“I personally didn’t take the crowd and the fans into consideration. I just thought this is the best thing for me to do.
“Maybe within football, because racism is still a big thing, maybe they put homophobia on the same sort of figure – if they see a gay player that’s a great target for fans to get into them about and put them off their game.”
However, he encouraged any football players that may be considering coming out to take the leap, as they will find more support than homophobia in both fans and fellow team mates.
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“I’m sure if there was a footballer who came out they’ll get so much support it will be unbelievable. It’s juts waiting for that person to take that step.”
He also praised his current team who he says have been immensely supportive.
“Ealing Trailfinders have said that if I have any trouble with the crowd or anything it will be dealt with by them.
“So that’s really encouraging, just seeing how Ealing will deal with it, even before I’ve played for them.”
Hirst, 29, became one of the first players in his sport to open up about his sexuality – and his battle with the “macho” image of Rugby League – in a revealing interview with the the Sunday Mirror.
Cross-code international Gareth Thomas previously was the only out gay player as he came out whilst playing for rugby union side Cardiff Blues.