An Irish rugby star has written an open letter to Israel Folau saying: “don’t judge me – I’m just like everyone else.”
Lindsay Peat, a top player in the Ireland Women’s Rugby squad, said she felt compelled to respond after the Australian star posted that hell awaited homosexuals unless they repented.
Peat, who has represented Ireland in soccer, basketball, rugby, and won an All-Ireland medal for Dublin, previously spoke of the homophobic abuse she suffered, saying she was called a “dirty dyke” in an All-Ireland final.
Writing for TheSportsChronicle.com, the 38-year-old said: “If I had two minutes with Israel Folau, I would say I’m Lindsay Peat – proud Dubliner, proud wife, proud mother, proud daughter, proud sister, proud rugby player.
“Like you, I’ve had the honour to represent my country at the highest level in the game… But I’m gay.
“I don’t want special treatment. I don’t need to sing from any altar that I’m gay I just want to be like everyone else because I am like everyone else. I live and I love. I let live and I let love.
“When you judge me, when you judge all of us, you make me fight. I will fight to not go back to that dark place that you will never understand.”
Last Friday, Folau was sacked by Rugby Australia over the homophobic post he made on Instagram.
Folau, a devout Christian, has argued that he shouldn’t be punished for expressing his own religious beliefs.
The Sydney Morning Herald has reported today that he is considering suing for unfair dismissal based on religious grounds and has contacted one of Australia’s top employment lawyers.
Peat said she went through a very dark period when she was younger and was struggling with her sexuality.
She suffered panic attacks, self-loathing, weight loss, and drank to oblivion as she struggled with the prospect of coming out to friends and family.
The Dubliner said she even contemplated suicide, thinking “it would be better not to be here because I couldn’t take it anymore”.
“The lying to everyone. The lying TO MYSELF because, in the Ireland that I lived in at that time, it just wasn’t ok to be gay – you were judged,” she explained.
Peat, who works in the HSE as a clerical officer, is now happily married to Claire and the couple have a 3-year-old son Barra.
She says she feels “pity” that a player “in such a privileged position, getting paid for doing something he loves doing” chose to use his power to target gay people.
You can read Lindsay Peat’s full article here.