Still 'daunting' for male intercounty players to come out as gay

Dublin camogie player Aisling Maher, a member of the GPA's LGBTQ+ working group, fears it may be 'daunting' and 'a little bit intimidating' for any current male inter-county player to come out publicly
Still 'daunting' for male intercounty players to come out as gay

Dublin's Aisling Maher says that ladies sports make it easier for players to be themselves. ©INPHO/Bryan Keane

Dublin camogie player Aisling Maher, a member of the Gaelic Players Association's LGBTQ+ working group, fears it may be 'daunting' and 'a little bit intimidating' for any current male inter-county player to come out publicly.

Blackpool's Jake Daniels broke new ground this week when he became the UK's first male professional soccer player since Justin Fashanu in 1990 to publicly confirm that he is gay.

Former Cork hurler Donal Og Cusack made a similar announcement in 2009 though no male inter-county player has since followed suit.

Speaking on the GPA's The Players Voice podcast, Maher said that she came out to her Dublin camogie colleagues a number of years ago and feels that ladies sports make it easier for players to be themselves and their 'whole selves'.

"I guess from my perspective, I do think that camogie and the LGFA, this is one of the few areas that we're a little bit head of the GAA, in our acceptance of LGBTQ+ players, our ability to allow them to be their whole selves and to bring their whole selves to a team environment," Maher told host and former Cavan footballer Alan O'Mara.

"We've touched a little bit already on the demands and commitments that are required to play senior inter-county GAA and from my own personal experience, playing for four or five years with the Dublin senior camogie team before I came out...part of that was me and getting my own head straight and deciding where I wanted to be myself.

"I definitely had a kind of short-term experience of being out and knowing I was gay and not knowing whether or not I could talk to my team-mates about it, how that would go, what that might look like, not seeing really very many players before me within camogie or Dublin camogie who had been out.

"I think there's aspects of that that could have been easier for me if there had been more obvious role models who were comfortable in who they were and how they felt and if I could have seen their acceptance, I think there was aspects of that that might have been easier for me.

"I think that's still the case within the GAA. I would hypothesise that there are plenty of young boys growing up with aspirations to play senior inter-county and I would imagine that if I was a young guy looking to play hurling with my county, or football with my county, that it might be a little bit daunting or a little bit intimidating to know that there is no current out male players within the game. It might just make you question the environment a little bit, or your acceptance a little bit.

"I think it's really important for us as an organisation, the GPA, and then the GAA, camogie and LGFA, to establish our position as an inclusive environment and somewhere where if players are going to come and commit however many hours a day, a week, a year to a team, you want them to be able to do that in being their whole self and not hiding something from somebody or feeling like they have to hold something back or act a certain way."

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