Gay referee David Gough disappointed that few GAA players feel they can come out

Top referee David Gough shares his surprise at how few GAA players have come out since he first shared his own sexuality in 2011.

Close up of gay referee David Gough looking serious
Image: Via Twitter @SuperValuIRL

As more and more sports stars, including Leinster Rugby scrum-half Nick McCarthy and Blackpool soccer player Jake Daniels, have come out and received widespread support, Gough wonders why there aren’t more openly queer GAA stars.

“When I came out publicly in 2011, I just assumed that it would open doorways for other people and it doesn’t seem to have,” Gough notes. “Or maybe they just haven’t taken the opportunity. They’re there, there’s no doubt about it.

“It just hasn’t happened (in the GAA) and we’re talking about 64 inter-county hurling and football teams where nobody seems to have found a comfortable space yet or a place in their journey where they feel comfortable in coming out,” he continues. “And that’s a little bit sad because greater visibility leads to greater ease for people who are following people in those footsteps.”

Although Gough is disappointed that LGBTQ+ GAA players don’t seem to feel they have a safe space in which to come out, he also notes that progress is indeed being made for queer support and visibility within the sport.

“We only have to look back to 2015 when I wasn’t allowed to wear a [rainbow] wristband, 2019 when we walked in the pride parade, to 2022 where now the GPA is getting involved, there is a diversity and inclusion officer, there’s two dedicated LGBT teams in the two main cities in this country.”

While there are many publicly out women in ladies’ football and camogie, Gough gives his thoughts on why GAA-playing men might be more hesitant to come out.

“It’s that fear around exclusion,” he said, “it’s that fear obviously around body image and showering with other males and what they’re perceiving and what you’re perceiving and none of it comes to any fruition whatsoever, everything just goes on and continues as normal, just now they know something private about you that they never knew before that actually is, as it turns out, very irrelevant to them.”

This year, Gough will sadly not be marching in tomorrow’s Dublin Pride parade, as he will referee the All-Ireland quarter-final between Kerry and Mayo on Sunday.

“I’d usually walk in the parade but I suppose just the nervousness of it, the waiting around that can be involved with it, the long walk, I just want to stay away from that side of it in the buildup to the game.”

Instead of Dublin Pride, Gough will instead attend the Gaelic Players Association’s Pride Breakfast in the city.

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