During Pride month earlier this summer, Irish hockey player Peter Caruth made history by coming out as gay. In doing so, the athlete reportedly became the first openly gay male Irish Olympian and the only international male hockey player to have come out.
The announcement, which was made through a post on the Belfast man’s Instagram account, was widely well-received, with Caruth being met with an outcry of support. On Wednesday, July 6, he appeared on 2FM with Jennifer Zamparelli where he talked more about his experience navigating his sexuality, and how it felt to share it with the world.
Even though the athlete realised he was queer from around the age of 14, he didn’t come out to anyone until almost 20 years later when he was 33.
“I knew from a very young age but it wasn’t a comfortable scenario in those days to come out,” he explained.
“My family are quite a religious family […] my mum is an RE [Religious Education] teacher, but look if people like my mum and my dad and all my best mates can truly be comfortable with it and accept it, it’s class.”
Despite some of his friends being shocked at the news (one of whom even passed out) Caruth explained that the reaction has been largely positive.
“It just shows you that there are a lot more athletes out there, male athletes, that are suppressing their feelings, but they shouldn’t need to. That’s the biggest thing I’m trying to do by publicly coming out,” he said.
“I came out in November, but my whole public coming out is to let people know that you don’t have to suffer like that. I suffered for 20 years by not being true to myself.”
Caruth joins a longer list of male athletes who have recently made the move to publicly disclose their sexualities over the past couple of years. While things do appear to be changing, there is still a lot to be done before sport will feel fully inclusive of queer men.
“In the world of it, it is just harder for lads to come out,” Peter Caruth began.
“We keep things bottled up a bit more, and that’s not good and it shouldn’t be the norm. Sporting-wise, it all comes down to that edge, and for me, that’s the biggest factor.”
The hockey star believes that hiding his sexuality for so long led him to develop an OCD anxiety disorder for which he has a diagnosis. Despite seeing “nearly every psychologist in Northern Ireland and Ireland,” he never felt comfortable opening up about this aspect of his life.
Since coming out, his mental and physical health has improved, and he is encouraging anyone in a similar position to talk about their struggles.
“If you have a problem and you don’t have mates around you, reach out,” he says.
Thank you Peter for taking this step to tell your story. Your bravery and honesty will help others speak out more openly in future 🏳️🌈 #LetsGetVisible @SportingPrideIE @sportireland @SportNINet https://t.co/PJFwSJADft
— Hockey Ireland (@irishhockey) June 24, 2022
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