The wife of England’s first openly gay rugby league player has opened up about her husband’s shock announcement.
Sara Hirst, the wife of the Batley Bulldog's Keegan Hirst, who publically came out as gay in August, has spoken to The Mirror, confessing that, when Keegan admitted his sexuality to her, she wanted to “rip his head off”.
“At one point I wanted to rip his head off and kill him,” said the mother-of-three.
Sara recounted the talk between her husband and herself, where she thought that he was confessing to adultery, rather than being gay.
“He was umming and ahhing and I was preparing myself for the worst,” Sara revealed in her interview, “But when he told me he was gay I was stunned.”
“We had recently separated” said Sara, “He seemed his usual self. We sat down at the table. It was obvious then he was jittery. He said, ‘I’ve got to tell you something’.
“I thought he was going to tell me he’d got somebody pregnant, my worst nightmare. So I told him to spit it out. He took a breath, then said, ‘Sara… this rumour… it’s true’.
"It’ll sound strange, but I almost sighed with relief. I was shocked, but I was mainly glad he hadn’t got somebody pregnant. It was almost like ‘oh, you’re just gay…’ It was surreal but I was kind of fine. I was like, ‘OK, we can do this’.”
“It was hard to know what to say because we were both crying. I was just like ‘right, it is what it is’ and I said to him ‘we’ll get through it. I’ll support you’,” said Sara.
It wasn’t until a few days later that the reality really began to sink in, which led to a bitter spat between Sara and Keegan.
“Things began niggling in my mind,” Sara told The Mirror, “Then something snapped and the ranting started on the phone. We’d split once years ago after our daughter was born, so I was like ‘why didn’t you just leave me then? Why did you come back to me and propose and have another child?’
“I hung up on him so many times. I still loved him and wanted to support him but I needed answers. Then he said, ‘I can’t have a conversation with you. You’re being schizophrenic’.”
“That really angered me. I drove to his house, stormed in and shouted, ‘this is what you’ve made me. Are you happy? You’ve had years to get your head round this. I haven’t’.”
“I picked up his wallet and threw it at him, then I threw the kitchen utensil pot... But he’s so big it bounced off him,” she said.
“I felt he was being so blase. He said ‘you’ve gotta get your head round it’, like it was ‘life goes on’. I said ‘yeah, for you maybe. I’m left dealing with all this and trying to be strong for the kids'. At that point I hated him. I wanted to rip his head off and kill him.”
“I was never angry because he was gay,” Hirst said, “It was thinking ‘was it all a lie? Why have you strung me along? Have you been with a man? Have you cheated on me? Is that why you’re telling me?'”
But after days of contemplating Keegan’s confession and her reaction, Sara revealed she finally came to terms with it after having to explain it to her two children with Keegan.
“I can see now I’ve got two beautiful kids from our relationship and they will grow up to know I don’t regret them and I wouldn’t change them for the world.”
“I’m still not 100 per cent and I’m not gonna sit here and pretend I am. I’ve been in a dark horrible place, but now I’m coming through the other side,” she said.
“I’m able to say now ‘yeah, this is my husband – at least for the moment. I’m proud of him and I can support him’.”
Speaking earlier, Keegan revealed that his coming out was like "letting out a long breath that I’ve held in for a long time".
Although his initial confession hurt Sara, Keegan admitted that he felt as if he had no other choice.
“She blamed herself when we separated but I knew she’d done nothing wrong,” said Keegan, “I couldn’t bear it any more, the guilt of it all, of her not knowing why I left. It was eating me up.”
“She didn’t say anything at first. I explained why and how I felt, it was very emotional. We were both in tears,” said the 27-year-old.
“It was incredibly tough, but for me it was a weird situation because it also felt liberating.”